Is the Disposal of Fluorescent Light Bulbs Dangerous?


Quick Answer

Disposing of fluorescent light bulbs is only dangerous if the bulbs are broken or not handled properly, according to Fox News. The small amount of mercury in a single fluorescent bulb is enough to pollute 6,000 gallons of water, which makes proper disposal essential.

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Full Answer

If a bulb breaks in an enclosed room, humans and animals should leave the vicinity. Air and heating systems should be shut off, and windows need to be open to allow air to circulate for at least five minutes. Brooms and vacuum cleaners should not be used, though vacuum cleaners designed for hazardous waste are acceptable. For large messes, specialty mercury vacuum cleaners are available for cleaning. These types of machines prevent vapors from escaping into the air.

Latex gloves should be used during cleaning, and the hands need to be thoroughly washed when finished. A cardboard box can be used to scoop up the mess, and duct tape may be used to pick up smaller pieces. A paper towel is a suitable tool for wiping away shards and mercury.

Broken material should be placed in a sealed container or a double plastic bag and placed in an outside trash bin. Broken items should not be left in the home. Bulbs should be placed in a designated recycling bin or sent to a hazardous waste center. Recyclers should place plastic inside a cardboard box and cover the bulbs with a lid to prevent the items from breaking.

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