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How to Dispose of and Recycle Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Aug 9, 2008
Fluorescent lighting offers consumers much needed savings in cost of energy, and it also offers a much needed decrease in energy waste for the environment. Because of the wonderful benefits of compact fluorescent light bulbs, their usage is growing rapidly in American household and in the US workplace.

While there is not much need to worry about fluorescent light bulbs, as will all technological innovations, we must at some point think about physical waste. Our landfills are filling up, and fast. Therefore we must try to find a way to recycle as much trash as possible.

The two cases where we need to consider disposal are:

1. Dead fluorescent bulbs.
2. Broken fluorescent bulbs.

Fluorescent bulbs can break just like any other bulb, although not nearly as easily as incandescent glass light bulbs. Indeed, fluorescent bulbs are safer today than ever before, but they are still made with a couple of potentially harmful chemicals such as mercury and some phosphorescent chemicals.

Although there is not much need for fear or worry when dealing with fluorescent lighting, accidents happen. Therefore it is important to know how to safely deal with a broken fluorescent bulb. Safety is always the more important factor in any effort to dispose of broken or malfunctioning equipment. All light bulb disposal should be treated cautiously, but take these extra steps with fluorescent bulbs.

Please follow this list of 5 steps to take when disposing of a broken fluorescent light bulb:

1. Turn off forced air, heating, and air conditioning units, and open doors and window to introduce fresh air into the room.

2. Humans and pets should leave the area for fifteen minutes. This is to avoid the toxic gases and mercury spill from a broken bulb.

3. Do not touch bulb fragments or use a vacuum or broom to clean up on hard surfaces. Use pieces of cardboard to scoop up large pieces and packing tape (or other sticky material) to pick up small particles. Enclose debris and materials used for cleanup in a glass jar with metal lid or seal in a plastic bag.

4. Clean hard surfaces with a disposable towel and if a vacuum is required for a fabric area, be sure to change the bag when finished. Towels and vacuum bags should also be sealed before disposal.

5. Clothing or bedding that has come in direct contact with the broken bulb should be disposed of in a sealed package.

These steps should prove to keep you safe in the uncommon event that a fluorescent light bulb should rupture. Please do not let this information deter you from making the switch to fluorescent lighting. The benefits of fluorescent lighting far outweigh this slight inconvenience of disposing of a broken fluorescent bulb.
About the Author
In addition to providing energy audits, energy efficient lighting, and consultations, The Energy Superstore also has a program for recycling fluorescent light bulbs and lamp ballasts.

Order pre-paid pick up for disposal of fluorescent light bulbs today, at The Energy Superstore!
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