Posted by: Dan Sprague | January 27, 2012

Clean Up of CFL Light Bulbs = HASMAT CLEANUP

The new  CFL light  bulbs (compact florescent light bulbs), are much cheaper to use, last longer, produce much less heat, and are great for the consumer. However, CFL light bulbs contain mercury and are considered a hazardous disposable product. It is illegal to just throw them away in the trash. If you break one, it IS A HASMAT CLEANUP (hazardous material cleanup) and special precautions are required.

First, you need to get out of the area for at least 15 minutes to let the gas inside the bulb dissipate. The gas inside the bulb is toxic and it can be very dangerous to children and women that are pregnant. After the gas dissipates, you need to use special precautions when cleaning up the remains of the bulb.

Safety first when cleaning up the breakage

Everything you use to clean up the breakage will need to be thrown out with the broken bulb. Everything should be double-bagged before it goes to the trash.

DO NOT USE A VACUUM CLEANER!  A vacuum cleaner will spread the mercury not clean it up.

Use rubber or vinyl gloves: these will need to be thrown out with the rest of the cleanup stuff. Use a piece of cardboard to slide under and pick up the broken glass pieces. Do not pick them up with your fingers. You can use a second piece of cardboard to help collect the fragments. The fragments and the cardboard used in the cleanup need to be put into a plastic bag. A soft paper towel can then be used to blot up fine dust. The towel needs to go in the bag. If the breakage is on a rug, a piece of Duct Tape can be used to collect the fine pieces. The pieces of duct tape go in the disposal bag. The gloves you used for the cleanup go in the bag also and then the bag with all the cleanup stuff in it should be put in a second bag.

The CFLs are great bulbs and will save you money when they are used.  They can cause interference to some electronic equipment.  They do need to be handled with care and proper disposal of the bulbs is required. When they are broken, they should not just be swept up with a broom and thrown away like the old bulbs. The cleanup described above may seem excessive, but it is what is recommended to protect the one cleaning up the breakage as well as other people, pregnant women, children, and pets.

The bulb on the left is a old type incandescent bulb. The three to the right of it are CFL bulbs. They now come in regular bulb shapes, squiggle types and spots.

CFL bulbs save you money to use but are hazardous if broken.

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