Light Bulb Recycling Resources in Ottumwa IA
Des Moines, IA
Light Bulb Recycling Resources in
Swapping Out Bulbs: Recycling, Cleanup and LED Options
Photo: Flickr, Eli the Bearded
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These days more and more homes and businesses are being lit by mercury-containing compact fluorescent lights (CFL). While they represent a much better alternative than traditional incandescent light bulbs and last up to 10 or 15 times longer than regular “Edison” bulbs, the cleanup process after a bulb break can be dangerous and complicated. These CFL bulbs contain mercury, which is harmful to people and the environment if they are not properly disposed.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages users of the bulbs to recycle them so that the materials, such as glass and metals can be reused, but also to keep mercury from contaminating the environment. The proper disposal of these bulbs can be a bit problematic so most municipalities have their own regulations concerning recycling of bulbs . Recycling locations can also be found at Earth911.com .
Cleanup If Bulb Breaks
Mercury emits toxic vapors that have serious health effects. To minimize exposure to mercury after a breakage, the EPA recommends clearing the room of any people and pets and let the room air out for at least fifteen minutes. To safely pick up the material, one should scoop-up the material with stiff paper or cardboard and then seal the broken pieces in a plastic bag or a canning jar. Then, the remaining fragments should be picked up using duct tape and placed in bags along with damp paper towels that should be used to clean the area of the breakage.
If the bulb breaks over a carpeted area, one should proceed the same way by picking up the broken pieces with tape and if vacuuming is necessary, carefully remove the vacuum bag and place that in along with the other materials in a plastic bag. Any clothing or bedding that came into contact with the physical contents of the broken CFL should be thrown away because it could contaminate the washing machine or water supply.
As worldwide energy sources are increasingly taxed by the day, the usage of CFLs is certainly a step in the right direction, bu...