DISPOSING OF CFL's SAFELY All fluorescent lamps and tubes contain a small amount of mercury – typically about 5mg; by comparison, an old mercury thermometer contains about 500mg. And concern has been raised over the level of mercury in CFLs. Is this a danger when a CFL breaks or comes to the end of its life and must be disposed of? There is some risk, but there’s no significant danger as long as you follow precautions when cleaning up a broken CFL. There may be longer-term problems with mercury content in landfill if dead and broken CFLs are disposed of in household waste rather than being recycled. Nevertheless, a broken CFL can release mercury into the air. The health risk from occasional breakages is low, but it’s still important to treat the broken lamp safely. When handling CFLs, remember to: Open windows and doors to ventilate the room for 15 minutes before cleaning up the broken lamp. Wear disposable gloves and sweep up the broken pieces with a disposable brush if possible. Put the broken pieces in a sealed container. Use sticky tape or a damp cloth to pick up any dust and small pieces. If vacuuming is still needed (such as on carpet), dispose of the bag afterwards, or empty and wash the collector bin. Recycle dead and broken CFLs with a suitable recycler if possible. They can be hard to find in most parts of Australia, but to locate one contact your state environment department, check waste recyclers in the Yellow Pages or see the Australian government’s Fluorocycle scheme, which aims to encourage businesses and governments to increase recycling of fluorescent lamps. IKEA also has CFL recycling bins in its stores and, at the time of publication, Bunnings is trialling CFL recycling bins in its South Australian stores. Dispose of the clean-up gear and broken pieces in your regular rubbish, not your council recycling bin, if you can’t locate an approved CFL recycler. Similarly, dead (unbroken) CFLs should be recycled or wrapped and put in regular rubbish, unless your local council has different rules.