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Your CFL Lightbulbs Contain Mercury: Proper Clean Up & Disposal

 Does Your Light Bulb Contain Mercury?

Many people don’t realize that the light bulbs they use contain mercury. The increased demand for energy-efficient lighting over standard incandescent light bulbs led to a boom in CFL (compact fluorescent lights) sales.  While they are more energy efficient; they contain mercury which must be handled with extreme care when one of them breaks.  Mercury is a poison and if one is broken you must take steps to avoid toxic inhalation or contamination of your home. We have gathered the following information to help you with identifying what bulbs contain mercury, local disposal resources, and step by step proper and safe clean up in case one of your bulbs breaks. Carpeting requires special care so be sure to read that portion about NOT vacuuming and making sure to shut off the HVAC system.

A quick visit to the Home Depot website and a search for cfl light bulbs shows 272 results for CFL light bulbs.  As well as the CFL examples in the photo above, the following are bulbs that contain mercury:

  • Fluorescent bulbs:

o    Linear, U-tube and circline fluorescent tubes

o    Bug zappers

o    Tanning bulbs

o    Black lights

o    Germicidal bulbs

o    High output bulbs, and

o    Cold-cathode fluorescent bulbs.

  • High intensity discharge bulbs:

o    Metal halide

o    Ceramic metal halide

o    High pressure sodium, and mercury vapor.

  • Mercury short-arc bulbs; and
  • Neon bulbs.

Benton County

Benton County Solid Waste Website shows the dates of their Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Disposal Events here.  The next one is scheduled for April 7th and April 14th.  They also have a list of light bulb recycle locations (with addresses and phone numbers) that collect CFLs for no charge.  You can recycle up to ten lights per day.

Collection sites include:

Kennewick: Kennewick Ace Hardware and Sporting Goods

Kennewick: Batteries Plus Bulbs

Richland: Ace Hardware and Sporting Goods on Keene Road

Richland: Grigg’s Department Store Ace Hardware

Benton City:  Patnode’s True Value

Franklin County

If you are in Franklin County, their Hazardous Waste Department can be found here.  They have a list of what is classified as hazardous waste besides CFL light bulbs that may surprise you.  These include paint, wood stain, glues, cleaning agents, pesticides, gasoline, pool chemicals, and batteries.

Detailed Instructions On How To Clean Up Broken CFL Light Bulbs From The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives a detailed explanation for what to do if a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) or fluorescent tube light bulb breaks in your home. Many people aren’t aware that CFL light bulbs contain small amounts of mercury.  When one of the fluorescent bulbs break, that mercury is released in the form of mercury vapor which shouldn’t be inhaled.  Pets and people should immediately leave the from for 5-10 minutes and shut off any central heating/air conditioning system.

They even have the information available to download and print on their website.  Here are their recommendations for your safety:

Before Cleanup

  • Have people and pets leave the room.
  • Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
  • Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
  • Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:

o    stiff paper or cardboard;

o    sticky tape;

o    damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and

o    a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.

During Cleanup

  • DO NOT VACUUM.  Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken.  Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
  • Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.  Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard.  Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.  See the detailed cleanup instructions for more information, and for differences in cleaning up hard surfaces versus carpeting or rugs.
  • Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

After Cleanup

  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of.  Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  • Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
  • If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.

The following is their recommendations for hard surfaces such as wood flooring or tile:

Cleanup Steps for Hard Surfaces

  1. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag. (NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.)
  2. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  3. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  4. Vacuuming of hard surfaces during cleanup is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. [NOTE: It is possible that vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor, although available information on this problem is limited.] If vacuuming is needed to ensure removal of all broken glass, keep the following tips in mind:

o    Keep a window or door to the outdoors open;

o    Vacuum the area where the bulb was broken using the vacuum hose, if available; and

o    Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and seal the bag/vacuum debris, and any materials used to clean the vacuum, in a plastic bag.

  1. Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of.  Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  2. Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
  3. Wash your hands with soap and water after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing bulb debris and cleanup materials.
  4. Continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the HVAC system shut off, as practical, for several hours.

Cleanup Steps for Carpeting or Rugs

Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag. (NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.)

  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Vacuuming of carpeting or rugs during cleanup is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. [NOTE: It is possible that vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor, although available information on this problem is limited.] If vacuuming is needed to ensure removal of all broken glass, keep the following tips in mind:

o    Keep a window or door to the outdoors open;

o    Vacuum the area where the bulb was broken using the vacuum hose, if available, and

o    Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and seal the bag/vacuum debris, and any materials used to clean the vacuum, in a plastic bag.

  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of.  Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  • Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing bulb debris and cleanup materials.
  • Continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the HVAC system shut off, as practical, for several hours.

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rugs: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

  1. The next several times you vacuum the rug or carpet, shut off the HVAC system if you have one, close the doors to other rooms, and open a window or door to the outside before vacuuming. Change the vacuum bag after each use in this area.
  2. After vacuuming is completed, keep the HVAC system shut off and the window or door to the outside open, as practical, for several hours.

If you have further questions, please call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

As always, thanks for reading and we welcome any additional information or comments you may have.

 

www.EverStarRealty.com

www.EverStarPropertyManagement.com

509-735-4042

1920 N. Pittsburgh St., Suite A

Kennewick, WA 99336

Posted by: everstar on March 13, 2018
Posted in: Uncategorized