HOW TO SAFELY HANDLE COMPACT FLOURESCENT LIGHTS (CFL’S)

BECAUSE CFL’S CONTAIN A SMALL AMOUNT OF MERCURY, THE EPA HAS ESTABLISHED GUIDELINES TO OBSERVE WHEN HANDLING, DISPOSING OF, OR CLEANING UP BROKEN CFL’S

250px-compact-flourescent-bulb2.jpg As more and more of us convert out incandescent home lighting to the new soft light compact fluorescent lights, it is important to remember that these odd looking bulbs contain small amounts of mercury.

For that reason the EPA has developed guidelines to observe when handling, disposing of, or cleaning up broken CFL’s.

We here at Greenourscene.com urge you to take a moment and observe the best ways to handle CFL’s.

-Denis

INSTALLING CFL’S

Be careful when removing the bulb from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it.

Always screw and unscrew the light bulb by its base (not the glass), and NEVER forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket.

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN A CFL WEARS OUT?

PROPER DISPOSAL: Contact your area recycling company to see if they have a program for disposing of worn out or broken CFL’s. If the answer is no, or you are unsure of who to contact, go to www.epa.gov/bulbrecycling or ww.earth911.org to identify local recycling options.

NOTE! Some areas permit you to put used or broken CFLs in the garbage. If this applies to your area seal the bulb in two plastic bags and put it into the outside trash, or other protected outside location, for the next normal trash collection.

It is important that you NEVER send a fluorescent light bulb or any other product containing mercury to an incinerator.

WHAT IS THE SAFEST WAY TO CLEAN UP A BROKEN CFL?

BEFORE CLEAN-UP:

Air Out the Room – Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.

Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

CLEAN-UP STEPS FOR HARD SURFACES

Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.

Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass pieces and powder.

Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.

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

CLEAN-UP STEPS FOR CARPETING OR RUG:

Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.

Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.

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 a sealed plastic bag

CLEAN-UP STEPS FOR CLOTHING, BEDDING, ETC.:

If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.

You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.

If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

DISPOSAL OF CLEAN-UP MATERIALS

Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.

Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.

Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

FUTURE CLEANING OF CARPETING OR RUG

Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.

Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes

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