CFL's What You Might Not Know About These Lightbulbs

I had a little tidbit in my e-mail box this morning concerning the disposal of those new (fairly new) CFL lightbulbs. While they are supposed to be so instrumental in conserving energy that a lot of retailers are selling them at only 99 cents each in order to get us to use them,(according to "if every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars),
I never had a second thought about how to dispose of them. I never saw any big warnings on the package, never read anything about it in the news as to what a health hazard they could be, nothing. In case you're in the same boat, here is what the EPA suggests.

According to to dispose of used CFL bulbs, they should be taken to a recycling center that handles florescent bulbs. If you're trying to locate one by you try or to identify local recycling options.If your state permits you to put used or broken CFLs in the garbage, seal the bulb in two plastic bags and put it into the outside trash.

But If You Break One...

There's a lot more to it. This is what took me by surprise. Taken directly from the EnergyStar website-

How should I clean up a broken fluorescent bulb?
The following steps can be performed by the general public:
1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
􀂃 Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.
􀂃 Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.
􀂃 Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the outdoor trash container or in another outdoor protected area for the next normal trash disposal.
􀂃 Note: some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a local recycling center.
􀂃 Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.
4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet:
􀂃 First, remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
􀂃 If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

Please be careful when dealing with these. All the conservation of energy in the world won't do us any good if we can't enjoy it. For more information concerning CFL bulbs, visit

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