So why would a single broken bulb in a Maine household trigger the state's Department of Environmental Protection to refer the homeowner to a decontaminator? The answer lies in the type of bulb that broke—a compact fluorescent lightbulb —and what was inside that bulb. Compact fluorescents, like their tubular fluorescent precursors, contain a small amount of mercury—typically around five milligrams. Mercury is essential to a fluorescent bulb's ability to emit light; no other element has proved as efficient.
Compact fluorescent lamp - Wikipedia
Timeline Fluorescents are a large family of light sources. There are three main types of fluorescent lamps: They all use phosphors excited by electrons to create light. On this page we will discuss the cold and hot cathode lamps. Electroluminescent lamps use "fluorescence" but are so different they are covered on another page. From this point when we refer to 'fluorescent lamp' we will be talking about a lamp with a glass discharge tube and fluorescent coating on the inside, this is how the cold and hot cathode type of lamps are designed.
Historian Thomas Hughes has attributed Edison's success to his development of an entire, integrated system of electric lighting. The lamp was a small component in his system of electric lighting, and no more critical to its effective functioning than the Edison Jumbo generator , the Edison main and feeder, and the parallel-distribution system. Other inventors with generators and incandescent lamps, and with comparable ingenuity and excellence, have long been forgotten because their creators did not preside over their introduction in a system of lighting.
Have people and pets leave the room, and avoid the breakage area on the way out. Open a window or door to the outdoors and leave the room for minutes. Collect materials you will need to clean up the broken bulb: