Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How to clean up a broken compact fluorescent bulb

Maine studied what happens when a compact fluorescent lamp bulb breaks and what to do. After shattering 65 bulbs while monitoring air quality, they recommend:

If a bulb breaks, get children and pets out of the room. Ventilate the room. Never use a vacuum -- even on a rug -- to clean up a compact fluorescent light. Instead, while wearing rubber gloves, use stiff paper such as index cards and tape to pick up pieces, then wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp paper towel. If there are young children or pregnant woman in the house, consider cutting out the piece of carpet where the bulb broke. Use a glass jar with a screw top to contain the shards and clean-up debris.

“We found some very high levels (of mercury), even after we tried a number of clean-up techniques," said Mark Hyland, Maine director of the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management. During several of the experiments, for example, he said mercury in the air was more than 100 times levels considered safe even after a floor was cleaned.

Currently, you can avoid such toxic clean-up risks by buying other kinds of lightbulbs. The federal government plans to take that choice away from you. As per last year's energy bill, 100-Watt incandescent bulbs will be phased out by 2012 with 40-Watt incandescents to be out by 2014. Trust your government: it always knows best.

Hat tip: BotW.

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