EPA expands on clean-up rules for broken CFL

CFL’s (compact fluorescent light bulbs) contain what the Environmental Protection Agency and major retailers consider a “small amount” of powdered mercury in them.

Today, the EPA has updated their policy on how to safely deal with a broken compact fluorescent light bulb, a backhanded way of telling consumers that “small” is still toxic and dangerous.

Proper disposal of a broken CFL is critical. Mercury is toxic, and is listed on the EPA’s list of hazardous chemicals.

Until now, if you broke one, the EPA recommended:

  1. Immediately open a window and air out the room for 10-15 minutes
  2. Get people and pets out of the room immediately
  3. Carefully collect the broken pieces of the light bulb and any visible powder
  4. Do NOT vacumn the broken mess
  5. Place it all in a sealed plastic bag (double seal it for safety)
  6. Place the sealed container in your trash ONLY if your city or town offers that kind of recycling. If not, take it to your municipal hazardous waste facility.

The EPA now has additional precautions for safely handling broken CFL's

Now the EPA has added a couple of additional steps. Remember, you’re dealing with a toxic chemical.

  • Before starting clean-up, shut off your central forced air heating/air-conditioning (H&AC) system, if you have one.
  • Be sure to air out the room so that it goes to an outdoor environment
  • AFTER clean-up, continue to air out the room and leave the air (HVAC) system off for several hours.

When does the EPA admit that “small amount” of mercury can still constitute a serious household hazard? Guess they just did.

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One Response

  1. I will not buy these bulbs anymore. One broke in my daughters’ room and it was ridiculously stressful.

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