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Broken Fluorescent Light Bulb & Dangers to the Skin

Updated November 21, 2016

Fluorescent light bulbs, both compact and regular, are more energy-efficient than regular bulbs because they produce light differently. If a fluorescent light bulb breaks, it must be picked up carefully to avoid exposing your skin to danger.

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Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Fluorescent light bulbs create light by introducing electricity to a gas inside the light bulb. The gas produces UV light, which hits a white coating inside the light bulb. This white coating changes the UV light into visible light.

Broken Glass

The greatest danger to skin with a broken fluorescent light bulb is the chance you could be cut with glass shards, according to GE Lighting.


A broken fluorescent light bulb can also expose you to mercury. Mercury is not dangerous if it touches your skin, but if you get it on your hand and then hold your hand close to your face, you could inhale a hazardous vapour, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.


If you cut your fingers on the broken glass, remove all the glass from your fingers and bandage them if necessary. If you inhale mercury, contact your local poison control centre. You might need to have mercury removed from your body by suction or through medication, according to the National Institutes of Health.


To avoid injury to your skin, if a fluorescent light bulb breaks, sweep up all the pieces and then place them into a sealed plastic bag. After you are finished, wash your hands thoroughly and ventilate the room.

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About the Author

Kay Wagers
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