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How to safely dispose of burned-out CFL bulbs

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Herald Staff
Published:
So you're doing your part using the energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs. They do have a longer life than the incandescent bulbs, but eventually they burn out. Then what do you do?
First of all, don't be scared. Snohomish County Fire District 7 says they CFLs may smoke and the plastic base may turn black, but it's not a fire hazard.
What is a hazard is tossing them in the trash because they contain mercury. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends following local recycling options, which you can find at www.takeitbacknetwork.org/.
Bartell's stores and Home Depot will recycle the CFLs for you. In Snohomish County, people can take unbroken burned-out bulbs to the solid waste facilities and the Household Hazardous Waste facility.
Call 425-388-3425 for solid waste information. The Household Hazardous Waste facility is at 3434 McDougall Ave., Everett. Call 425-388-6050 for information.
The fire district warns to be careful care when removing the CFLS from packaging or screwing them into and out of socket. If they break the small amount of mercury is dispersed into the air. It will dissipate in about an hour.
Meanwhile, open windows and leave the room for 5 to 10 minutes. Keep children and pets away and turn off forced air heating and/or air conditioning.
Collect the broken glass and visible powder using stiff cardboard, tape or a damp paper towel.
Place the debris in a glass container with a metal cover in a safe location outside until you can dispose of it.
Check with the Household Hazardous Waste facility for disposal of the container.
Only purchase light bulbs that have a UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.). You can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (cpsc.gov) for recalls of CFLs that may present a fire danger.
Information courtesy of www.NFPA.org and Fire District 7
Story tags » Home Improvement

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