- Open nearby windows and doors and allow room to ventilate for 15 minutes before cleaning up the broken lamp. Do not leave on any air conditioning or heating which could recirculate mercury vapors back into the room
- Do not use a vacuum cleaner or broom on hard surfaces because this can spread the contents of the lamp and contaminate the cleaner [YOU]. Instead, scoop up broken material (e.g. using stiff paper or cardboard) if possible into a glass container which can be sealed with a metal lid.
- Use disposable rubber gloves rather than bare hands.
- Use a disposable brush to carefully sweep up the pieces.
- Use sticky tape or a damp cloth to wipe up any remaining glass fragments or powders.
- On carpets or fabrics, carefully remove as much glass and/or powdered material using a scoop and sticky tape; if vacuuming on the surface is needed to remove residual material, ensure that the vacuum bag is discarded or the canister is wiped thoroughly clean.
- Dispose of clean-up equipment (i.e. gloves, brush, damp paper) and sealed containers containing pieces of the broken lamp in your outside rubbish bin – never in your recycling bin. [emphasis added]
- While not all of the recommended cleanup and disposal equipment described above may be available (particularly a suitably sealed glass container), it is important to emphasise that the transfer of the broken CFL and cleanup materials to an outside rubbish bin (preferably sealed) as soon as possible is the most effective way of reducing potential contamination of the indoor environment.
The U.S. Government provides a handy list of supplies necessary for the proper cleanup of mercury spills:
- 4-5 Ziploc – type bags
- trash bags (2-6 ml type)
- rubber, nitrile, or latex gloves
- paper towels
- cardboard or squeegee
- duct tape, or shaving cream and small paintbrush
- powdered sulphur (optional)
The cleanup instructions provided with this list give more helpful info, that you’ll want to read for a good laugh. It’s especially funny when they suggest you hire a contractor with mercury screening equipment. Oh, and keep the windows open for 24 hours and don’t let pets or children in that room. I hope you don’t break a bulb in January.
If you live in Vermont, there’s a helpful website listing approved recycling locations for CFLs. Important note: there’s only one location in the state.
Here’s some more enviro-hypocrisy:
- The purchase price of CFLs is 3 to 10 times greater than that of incandescent bulbs
- CFLs require more energy to manufacture
- CFLs require ‘warm-up time’ to reach their full lighting potential
- CFLs can aggravate symptoms in people who have rare skin conditions that make them sensitive to light
- If they are disposed of in the regular trash (rubbish bin) and taken to a landfill, they release vapors, thereby polluting the water and the air.
- Chinese factory workers who produce CFLs have been poisoned by the hundreds.
Do you see the overload of hypocrisy in all of these facts? In the name of saving the environment we are purposefully releasing pollutants into the air and water, poisoning people, using more energy in production, using more disposable gloves, throwing away clean up brushes and glass jars. I thought we were supposed to recycle, go organic, and use less energy. Where’s the common sense?
The use of mercury in cosmetics has been banned in the U.S. Mercury thermometers are almost non-existent. Mercury dental fillings have gone by the wayside. Using mercury as a preservative in childhood vaccinations is no longer the practice.
So why is it suddenly okay to mandate that we purchase only the light bulbs that contain mercury in every light fixture in our home?
Because it’s not about light bulbs, or the negligible amount of energy they save. It’s about the green movement, and it’s about bigger government. The green movement, or the environmental movement, or the global warming movement, are all about saving everything except humans. We need to save the earth, save our natural resources, save the polar bears, and save the trees, and all at the expense of human health and life.
I hope you will go out and stockpile all the incandescent light bulbs you can find, send your CFLs to Vermont, and tell all of your green friends.
And in case you think I’m bashing Obama, think again. This legislation was passed in 2007 under George W. Bush. It just goes to show, we need to be ever vigilant to know what is happening in Congress, read the bills, and take a stand.