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EPA Provides New Guidance for CFL Cleanup

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today updated its guidance on how to properly clean up a broken compact fluorescent lamp (CFL). Included with the guidance is a new consumer brochure with CFL recycling and cleanup tips.

CFLs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a CFL breaks, some of the mercury is released as vapor and may pose potential health risks, the EPA says. Below are the recommendations. Detailed recommendations can be found here.

1. Before cleanup
– Have people and pets leave the room.
– Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
– Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning (H&AC) system, if you have one.
– Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb.

2. During cleanup
– Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
– Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

3. 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.
– For several hours, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the H&AC system shut off.

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4 thoughts on “EPA Provides New Guidance for CFL Cleanup

  1. Thank you for the information, but it leaves off a very important final step: what are the proper procedures for final disposal of CFL material, once it is removed from the home? I believe they have to be taken to household hazardous waste collection programs and NOT thrown into regular trash for landfilling or incineration. It seems like the EPA would want to include that critical guidance?

  2. I wish the info was a little more thorough. For example, can a traditional vacuum cleaner be used for cleaning-up the powder or should one with high-filtration bags or HEPA filtration be used. Or should we skip the vacuum altogether? And I totally agree with the previous comment about guidance on disposal. A little additional info for be helpful.

  3. The link in the article takes you to the EPA instructions. These include the statement “Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your area.” The fact is that requirements will vary. I live just outside of Chicago and our agency says to put the sealed container or bag into the outside trash can. In my opinion they are recognizing that there is minimal danger to the community from the remnants of the occasional broken CFL going to their landfill.

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