Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs - Mercury Warning

We have been encouraged to use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs in our households to save energy. Troy and I have used them in a few of our lights for a few years now. I saw on the news the other day that these bulbs contain mercury, and once broken, the mercury is released from the bulb. The mercury is only about 1/100 of the amount that would be found in an old thermometer, however, caution should be taken if one were to break, and in disposal of the bulbs. The EPA released these guidelines on what to do if one of these bulbs were to break. I thought this info would be handy for those of you who use the bulbs.

What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks

EPA is continually reviewing its clean-up and disposal recommendations for CFLs to ensure that the Agency presents the most up-to-date information for consumers and businesses.

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal guidelines:

  1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

  2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag.

    1. Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.

    2. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

  3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.

    1. Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the outdoor trash container or in another outdoor protected area for the next normal trash disposal.
      Note: Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a local recycling center.

    2. Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.

  4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet:

    1. First, remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.

    2. If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

If you would like to dispose of your CFL bulbs, click here:State Mercury-Containing Bulb (Lamp) Recycling Programs

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