Household Hazmat: Keeping Your Family Safe

Although a part of our daily lives, many common products kept in and around the home contain hazardous materials, such as heavy metals or chemicals that are known to be toxic, corrosive or flammable. Storing and disposing of them with care can help limit exposure to these substances – which is healthier for people, pets and our environment.

The Problem with Mercury

Mercury is an element found in common household items including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and tubes, thermostats, thermometers and batteries. It’s an extremely toxic element that can damage the brain, kidney and lungs and impair the normal development of the brain and nervous system in fetuses or young children. If a product containing mercury breaks, important steps must be taken to ensure the safety of everyone in the house.

What to do if a CFL Breaks

  • Have people and pets leave the room right away.
  • Open windows or doors to ventilate the room for 10-15 minutes before returning to clean it up. Turn off the central heating and air for several hours.
  • Thoroughly collect the broken glass and visible powder, but try not to touch it directly. Wear protective gloves or consider using a bar of soap to pick up the pieces.
  • Place clean up materials in a sealed container or two sealed plastic bags before discarding.

Keep these tips in mind as you undergo your home remodeling projects or are simply purchasing new home decor.