Why We Hate Compact Fluorescent Lamps

Aside from being a horrible form of lighting, there are many reasons we hate this particular form of light. I explain to many people when they are asking me about CFL lamps that there are certain steps one must take when throwing out a lightbulb. Inevitably, they ask, “What do you mean? It’s just a lightbulb.” My standard reply to this is ,”Oh no it’s not. It is now hazardous material and you have to dispose of it like it is just that.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a page on their website on the how to of CFL disposal. I will give you the RLI version of this governmental page so you don’t have to go too far to find out what to do.

Your CFL has just fallen to the floor and shattered. A really weird looking white powder is on the ground now, so what do you do?

  1. Don’t reach for the vacuum right away. Vacuuming can spread mercury powder and mercury vapor.
  2. Remove pets and people from the room and air out the room for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Shut off your forced hot air system so it doesn’t spread into the ducting and make this a bigger hassle than it already is.
  4. Collect the following items: cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels and a glass jar that you can seal (or a sealable plastic bag)
  5. Pickup all glass and visible powder using the cardboard. Use the sticky tape to pickup the small glass fragments and then place them all in the sealable jar or bag.
  6. Place cleanup materials in a sealable bag or jar.
  7. Store all of the cleanup materials in a protected container.
  8. Check with your local area for disposal requirements. Many areas require the waste material to be recycled. If not, just throw it in your trash.
  9. Lastly, if possible, continue to air the room out and try not to turn on forced air system for several hours.
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