Replacing incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps or CFLs is not only better for the environment but will also save you money.
It should be noted however, that energy-saving CFLs do contain small quantities of elemental mercury.
While most modern CFLs contain fewer than 5 milligrams, which is approximately equivalent to the tip of a ballpoint pen, you should always handle the lamps with care and store them appropriately to prevent the likelihood of breakage.
If a lamp is broken or has reached the end of its useful life, the following guide will help you dispose of it correctly.
Cleaning-Up Broken Compact Fluorescent Lamps
The short-term nature of any potential exposure (particularly after the effective clean-up of the broken CFL material) does not constitute a significant health risk to exposed adults (including pregnant women) or children.
By using the following clean up and disposal instructions as a cautionary approach, it will further reduce possible risk:
Open nearby windows and doors to allow the room to ventilate for 15 minutes before cleaning up the broken lamp. Do not leave any air conditioning or heating equipment on which could recirculate mercury vapours back into the room.
Do not use a vacuum cleaner or broom (especially on hard surfaces) as they could become contaminated themselves. Instead, scoop up the broken pieces using stiff paper or cardboard and, if possible, place them into a glass container which can then be sealed with a metal lid.
Use disposable rubber gloves rather than your bare hands.
You can use sticky tape and/or a damp cloth to wipe up any remaining glass and/or powders or really small fragments.
You could also use a disposable brush to carefully sweep up the pieces.
If your only choice is to vacuum, make sure that the vacuum bag is discarded or the canister is thoroughly wiped clean.
Place the glass fragments (whether in a jar or not), plastic gloves, sticky tape, paper towel or any other material into sealed, doubled plastic bags for disposal in your outside rubbish bin – never in your recycling bin.
While not all of the recommended cleanup and disposal equipment described above may be available (particularly a suitably sealed glass container), it is important to emphasise that the broken CFL and clean-up materials are sealed and placed in an outside rubbish bin as soon as possible. This is the most effective way of reducing potential contamination of the indoor environment.
Disposing of Used Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Energy Saving Lamps have a life span of up to 10,000 hours, which means they are designed to last for many years.
At present, CFLs can be disposed of in regular rubbish bins.
Note: The best method of disposable is to recycle them in your local council’s hazardous waste collection scheme (if such a programme exists). Some local government authorities have drop off locations where you can safely dispose of these types of hazardous items. It’s a good idea to contact your local council or visit their website for advice and collection details.
You should not place CFLs in your kerbside recycling collection because they can break and contaminate recyclable items.
Although CFLs contain mercury, they are still better for the environment than using standard, energy hungry incandescent light globes. That’s because less mercury and carbon emissions will go into the atmosphere because CFLs use less electricity to produce the same amount of light, which, in the long run outweighs the small amount of mercury they contain.
It should also be noted that even current standard fluorescent tubes and most discharge lamps contain potentially harmful chemicals which should be handled with care and disposed of in the manner described above.A Guide to Living Greener - Disposing of Used/Broken Energy Saving Lamps,