What to do with broken fluorescent lights and the ballasts?

29 Dec 2010

What to do with the old lightbulbs?  Remember when someone would break a fluorescent light in school and no one knew what to do but everyone knew it was bad?  Well, EPA released a  new guidance on this issue.  The concern with CFLs – even the compact CFLs that we all have in our homes now is the tiny amount of mercury each bulb has.  Do not throw them out. They should be recycled.  In short:

Before cleanup 
Clear the room and air it out for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outside.
Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning (HVAC) system.
During cleanup
Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.
After cleanup
Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors. Continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the HVAC system shut off.

 EPA has also issued guidance for schools with older fluorescent light ballasts containing PCBs on whether and how to dispose of those as well.

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