After reading a lot of information on the topic, it seems that this is quite a serious problem. With traditional incandescent bulbs gradually moved out from the market, we are all forced to equip our lighting fixtures with the new CFL (compact fluorescent lamps). Well, they are not new anymore, but still we have to use them. A good price CFL bulbs could be obtained here: Cheap CFL lamps
There are so many ads and promotions, huge marketing campaigns and a lot of people convincing us, that these bulbs are so practical, useful and effective that we have found us running to the local store and buying these products, because they are nature friendly. And everyone wants to be a friend of nature, right? But unfortunately, these bulbs apart of all the positive characteristics, do have mercury in them and that appears to be a huge problem to the environment.
Well, probably most of you are already having such bulbs in their homes installed, so what I would recommend is to be careful if you break or crack any. A lot of medical institutions and laboratories have confirmed that these bulbs cannot damage our health when used properly and I’m willing to trust them. I don’t want to think if this is not true – with millions of CFL bulbs already produced, we have to be doomed. So let’s don’t get paranoid.
One tip of advice here is to have these bulbs fitted in the lighting fixtures behind a diffuser – a glass or decorative paper.
So if by any chance a bulb cracks or leaks, you will have some protection. The real threat will be if the small amount of mercury that is in the glass tubes of CFL, spills out and contaminate the air in the room. If this is the case you have to ventilate the area immediately to prevent anyone from inhaling the vapours. As stated by the Department of the Environment, you should vacate the room with the broken bulb for at least 15 minutes.
One more tip here – do not screw the bulb by holding it for the glass tubes! Use only the plastic base for manipulations!
Another bad situation is to have a mercury drop on your carpet, furniture, clothes or other porous items. It is extremely difficult to clean it of those fabrics and if it is not properly cleaned it will linger for years and provide severe health threat. Do not use a vacuum cleaner to remove the mercury as this will only contaminate the air. It is better to use a cloth and gather all the pieces. Use gloves to protect your hands from touching the mercury.
What to do when you have to remove your old compact fluorescent bulb? Obviously, you cannot directly put it in the trash bin. Why not? Because you can accidentally break it and release the mercury out.
As a result of all the mentioned cases, you have to dispose of the energy saving lamp somewhere safely. But the question is how and where?
Let’s try to answer the first one – the right thing to do is to put the bulb or the remains of the bulb in a plastic bag. My suggestion – wrap it in a paper and then put it in plastic bag. You can even put two plastic bags. If you want to be sure nobody will open the bag accidentally, you can tape the bag.
Unfortunately, answering the second question is really hard. First, you can carry the packed bulb to the council or municipality where are supposed to be containers for batteries and CFL bulbs or you can take the bulb to the nearest bulb / electrical store, where they should also have such containers for disposing of or recycling.
Waste disposal facilities can safely collect and dispose of old bulbs.
Regrettably, most of the people are just throwing the bulb in the nearest trash container. I cannot blame you for not going to the council or waste disposal facility everytime you had a burnt out bulb. If you are not keen on Greenpeace or environmental protection it is normal to treat these CFL bulbs as regular trash. If they invent more products with hazardous substances in them, than in the future we will have to build our own waste disposal facility in our own backyard.
The other option is to have some plastic box at home to collect the bulbs and dispose of more pieces at once.
So we had a dilemma here – a real energy saving product, caring for the environment and on the other hand a product so hard to get rid of it, when it’s life is over.
What my solution is:
- Use the CFL bulbs, but be careful not to break any. If you care about the nature – carry them to a waste disposal facility, if you don’t – at least wrap them in a plastic bag before putting them in the trashbin.
- Try halogen bulbs – they also save energy – up to 30%. The light emitted is much better for us, they do not contain dangerous substances and could be disposed of in your regular trash.
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