Safe disposal of CFLs - WBAY

Safe disposal of CFLs

EPA recommends that consumers take advantage of available local options for recycling CFLs, other fluorescent bulbs and all household hazardous wastes rather than disposing of them in regular household trash.

Why is Recycling CFLs Important?

•Recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trash can or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator.

•Other materials in the bulbs get reused. Recycling CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights. Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.

•Your area may require recycling. Some states and local jurisdictions have more stringent regulations than U.S. EPA does, and may require that you recycle CFLs and other mercury-containing light bulbs. California, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts , for example, all prohibit mercury-containing lamps from being discarded into landfills. Visit Earth911.com to contact your local waste collection agency, which can tell you if such requirement exists in your state or locality.

How and Where Can I Recycle CFLs?

1.Contact your local waste collection agency by visiting Earth911.com . Many counties and cities have household hazardous waste drop-off locations and/or curbside and other special collection programs. To find locations where you can drop off bulbs, and when and where a collection may be held in your area, contact your local waste collection agency directly by visiting Earth911.com.

Note that waste collection agencies:

◦provide services that are usually free, though some may charge a small fee.

◦sometimes collect household hazardous wastes only once or twice a year, so residents will have to hold on to their light bulbs until the collection takes place. Other collection agencies provide collection services throughout the year.

◦may also collect paints, pesticides, cleaning supplies or batteries.

◦usually accept waste only from residents, although some collection programs include small businesses as well.

2.Visit your local retailers. Ace Hardware, Home Depot, IKEA, Lowe's, Orchard Supply and other retailers offer in-store recycling. Visit Earth911.com to find stores in your area. Check directly with the store before you go; not all stores in regional or nationwide chains may be equipped to recycle. EPA is working with retailers to expand recycling and disposal options.

3.Find out about mail-back services. Some bulb manufacturers and other organizations sell pre-labeled recycling kits that allow you to mail used bulbs to recycling centers. The cost of each kit includes shipping charges to the recycling center. You fill up a kit with old bulbs, seal it, and bring it to the post office or leave for your postal carrier.

How Do I Clean up a Broken CFL?

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a fluorescent bulb breaks in your home, some of this mercury is released as mercury vapor. The broken bulb can continue to release mercury vapor until it is cleaned up and removed from the residence. To minimize exposure to mercury vapor, EPA recommends that residents follow the cleanup and disposal steps described below.

Before Cleanup

•Have people and pets leave the room, and avoid the breakage area on the way out.

•Open a window or door to the outdoors and leave the room for 5-10 minutes.

•Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning (H&AC) system, if you have one.

•Collect materials you will need to clean up the broken bulb:

◦Stiff paper or cardboard

◦Sticky tape (e.g., duct tape)

◦Damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces)

◦Glass jar with a metal lid (such as a canning jar) or a sealable plastic bag(s)

Cleanup Steps for Hard Surfaces

•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.

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

•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:

◦Keep a window or door to the outdoors open;

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

◦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 properly.

◦Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your area. Some states and communities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center.

•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 H&AC 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:

◦Keep a window or door to the outdoors open;

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

◦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 properly.

◦Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your area. Some states and communities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center.

•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 H&AC system shut off, as practical, for several hours.

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

•The next several times you vacuum the rug or carpet, shut off the H&AC 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.

•After vacuuming is completed, keep the H&AC system shut off and the window or door to the outside open, as practical, for several hours.

Actions You Can Take to Prevent Broken Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Fluorescent bulbs are made of glass and can break if dropped or roughly handled. To avoid breaking a bulb, follow these general practices:

•Always switch off and allow a working CFL bulb to cool before handling.

•Always handle CFL bulbs carefully to avoid breakage.

◦If possible, screw/unscrew the CFL by holding the plastic or ceramic base, not the glass tubing.

◦Gently screw in the CFL until snug. Do not over-tighten.

◦Never forcefully twist the glass tubing.

•Consider not using CFLs in lamps that can be easily knocked over, in unprotected light fixtures, or in lamps that are incompatible with the spiral or folded shape of many CFLs.

•Do not use CFL bulbs in locations where they can easily be broken, such as play spaces.

•Use CFL bulbs that have a glass or plastic cover over the spiral or folded glass tube, if available. These types of bulbs look more like incandescent bulbs and may be more durable if dropped.

•Consider using a drop cloth (e.g., plastic sheet or beach towel) when changing a fluorescent light bulb in case a breakage should occur. The drop cloth will help prevent mercury contamination of nearby surfaces and can be bundled with the bulb debris for disposal.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
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