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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Rules and Regulations

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Mar 24, 2009 8:22:37 AM

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Rules and Regulations

Dian Cucchisi - PhD - CHMM

It has been determined that if every home in America replaced just one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, we would save enough energy in just one year to light 3 million homes; and enough to offset the greenhouse gas emissions generated by 800,000 cars. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental agencies are encouraging homeowners to replace their regular light bulbs with CFL’s to save this energy. bulb1

There are also some rules and regulations with these bulbs that you might not know. For instance, CFL’s contain a small amount of mercury (about 5 milligrams) and should not be discarded in the regular trash unless permitted in your state. Used bulbs must be taken to a local recycling facility.

If a CFL bulb breaks in your home, there are guidelines for proper clean up and disposal. One homeowner told the story of calling the phone number on the package to get instructions for proper cleanup of a bulb that had broken. He was told to call a cleanup contractor and have them come to his home to take care of the broken bulb. He made the call and was quoted a price of $15,000 to do the cleanup.

The EPA has published guidelines for the proper cleanup and disposal of CFL’s. They include the following:
• Make sure that people and pets leave the room, open a window, shut off forced-air heating and air conditioning, and ventilate room for at least 15 minutes.
• Clean up broken lamps, placing shards and spilled powder in a puncture-resistant, sealed, plastic bag, or bucket.
• Wear gloves and use a damp cloth to sweep up the powder.
• Place all clean-up materials in a separate sealed container.

Here’s another helpful tip; never vacuum lamps it will simply spread the mercury vapor. You may recycle broken lamps at the same facility as your intact lamps. Do not throw them in the regular trash.

Topics: Emilcott, EPA, Hazardous Waste Management, Working Green

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