Thursday, August 7, 2008

Be Safe While You're Saving the Planet!


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You're recycling, you're offsetting your carbon footprint, you're even changing all your light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL's). Good for you - doing your part to save the planet!

But did you know that the act of switching your good old incandescent bulbs to CFL's also requires a very different set of rules if you ever need to clean up a broken one? Unlike incandescent bulbs, CFL's contain Mercury... It is true, that they contain much less than, say an old fashioned mercury thermometer - but no matter how small the amount, you must treat the cleanup of this substance in a much more careful manner.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if a CFL breaks, you should follow these steps to clean it up safely:

Before you clean up
- Open all the windows in the room.
- Evacuate the room for at least 15 minutes and never let anyone walk through the breakage spot on their way out.
- Shut off central or forced-air heating/cooling system.

Clean Up on Hard Surfaces
- Carefully scoop up the glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lit or a sealed plastic bag.
- Use sticky tape (like duct tape) to pick up any remaining glass fragments and powder.
- Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel and place in the jar with the broken pieces.
- DO NOT use a broom or vacuum to clean up!

Clean Up on Carpet
- Carefully scoop up the glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lit or a sealed plastic bag.
- Use sticky tape (like duct tape) to pick up any remaining glass fragments and powder.
- Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel and place in the jar with the broken pieces.
- If you must vacuum, do so, but remove the vacuum bag and place in a sealed plastic bag.

Clean up on Clothing, Bedding or Other Soft Materials
- If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury containing powder, it must be thrown away. Do not wash because mercury fragments in the fabric may contaminate the washing machine and/or pollute the sewage.
- If the fabric has not come in direct contact (with the powder or glass), you may wash these items.
- If shoes come in contact with broken glass or powder, wipe off with a damp paper towel and place the towel in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

- Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next trash pickup. (check with your local regulations - some areas require you treat this as hazardous waste)

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rugs
- The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/cooling system and open a window before you vacuum.
- Keep the system off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

Now that you know the proper way to handle things if one of your CFL's break you can safely clean them up...

Turning Lemons into Pink Lemonade!



Posted by Liz of Pink Lemonade

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