Bad lightbulb: Everything you wanted to know about CFL decontamination

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Today’s revelation was like a light bulb turning on, or breaking depending on how you look at it. Last night I was messing around with a light bulb in a table lamp. This particular bulb is one of those new-fangled contraptions – a CFL bulb.

While in theory, I like the idea of energy-saving bulbs, I was unaware of the 12 step decontamination process required in cleaning one up. Gone are the days of simply sweeping up the pieces. Ok, so maybe it is not 12 steps but it might be easier to call in an Haz-Mat team. I did however in my internet search for how to properly clean up my mess find that there is a college that has “CFL kits” for their residents. This is what their website says:

The clean-up kit will be a bucket containing safety glasses, tape, wipes, ziplock bags, a small broom and dustpan, and nitrile gloves. Use the safety glasses and gloves at all times while cleaning up the broken CFL Bulb.

And this is a summary of the awesome guidelines the EPA has for you.

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 bulbs.

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.

So. What I learned is I like my incandescent bulbs. I have no interest in replacing my bulbs and conserving the fractional change that my light bulbs contribute to my energy bill. I would rather buy energy-friendly appliances.

None of the sites really said what to do about the fact that I cut my finger on the bulb! So I assume that with a good cleaning it will be okay and I won’t have any mercury toxicity or anything like that.

Finally, I am not thrilled that they are phasing out my dear incandescent bulb. Hopefully, the manufacturers will figure something out before the deadline and have toxic-free (affordable – since LED clearly aren’t) light bulbs.

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