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Davis, California

Friday, October 22, 2021

Ask EPPC

How do you clean broken energy saving light bulbs?

Hopefully y’all have switched to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) already since these hip new light bulbs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, not to mention they use 50 to 80 percent less energy.

But what happens if one breaks in your house? Do they really contain the toxic metal mercury?

Yes, they do have mercury but only 5 mg or less (older thermometers contained 500 mg). However, since it’s vapor mercury, you should use caution when dealing with a broken bulb. The EPA cleanup steps for a broken bulb are as follows:

1. Before cleanup: Have people and pets leave the room and air it out for 5-10 minutes before reentering. Shut off the central heating/cooling system, if you have one. Collect the materials needed to clean up the broken bulb: stiff paper or cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels and a glass jar with a metal lid or sealable plastic bags.

2. During cleanup: Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder and place cleanup materials in the sealable container.

3. After cleanup: Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container – avoid leaving anything indoors. For several hours, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave central air systems off.

Also, don’t forget to always recycle your CFL bulbs – it is against California law to throw away any CFLs in household garbage.

Ask EPPC questions or tell us how to live green every week. Submit to maraget.link@gmail.com and win a green prize worth your effort.

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