What do you know about CFL’s?

One of the easiest ways to make your home more energy efficient is to switch your traditional incandescent light bulbs to CFLs (or compact fluorescent light blubs). Some CFLs use up to 75% less energy than traditional blulbs. There is a higher upfront cost, but CFLs last much longer and will give a quick return on your investment.

So you say…well I knew that! But would you know what to do if a CFL were to break in your home? Because CFLs contain mercury they must be handled carefully.

break

The EPA recommends taking these steps to ensure the safety of yourself and your family.

1.  Air Out the Room

  • This is the first step for any spill, no matter where it occurs
  • Have people and pets leave the room for at least 15 minutes
  • Shut off central air/heating system to avoid circulating any mercury vapors through your home

2. Carpet/Rug (clean-up)

  • Carefully pick up fragments and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid (think canning jar) or sealed plastic bag
  • Use sticky tape to pick up remaining glass fragments and powder
  • Vacuum area and then remove vacuum bag (or empty and wipe canister) and put bag/debris in a sealed plastic bag

3.  Hard Surfaces

  • Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper/cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid (canning jar) or sealed plastic bag
  • Use sticky tape to pick up remaining glass fragments and powder
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Then place the towels in the jar (or bag) with the glass fragments
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up broken bulb on hard surfacesBroken-cfl-bulbs

4. Clothing, fabric, bedding materials

  • If clothing or bedding materials should come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-powder from the CFL the clothing/materials should be thrown away.
  • Do not wash these materials as the mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and pollute the sewage.
  • You can wash the clothing or other materials that may have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you were wearing when you cleaned up the spill. Just be sure that the clothing has not come in 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 wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic for disposal.

5.  Disposal of Clean-Up Materials

  • Immediately place all clean up materials outdoors in the trash or protected area for the next trash pickup.
  • Wash your hands
  • Check with your local trash disposal requirements in your specific area.

 Locally you can dispose of your unbroken CFL’s at:

  • Any Home Depot – drop them off at customer service
  •  IKEA Atlanta – drop them off at the returns department

 If you have a broken CFL please contact your waste disposal company for disposal requirements. Usually I would not recommend this but there’s a first time for everything. Be sure to print this post and put in your home for quick reference.

Photos: studiomakelight.wordpress.com, enviromom.com

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