Notes On Consumer Affairs
You have probably heard that switching from incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) can save you money on your energy bill. In fact, compared to incandescent bulbs, CFL bulbs can last six times as long and use about seventy-five percent less energy, resulting in an estimated thirty dollars in savings in electricity costs over the lifetime of the bulb.
The benefits of CFLs are clear, but what happens when a bulb breaks or burns out? Since CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, they need to be handled and disposed of properly. In order to help protect the environment and your health, keep the following tips in mind when using and disposing of CFLs or any fluorescent lighting.
CFLs are safe, good for the environment and your wallet. With that said, care should be taken when installing or replacing CFLs. Be sure to screw and unscrew the light bulb by holding its base, as opposed to the glass portion, and avoid forcefully twisting the CFL into a light socket.
In the event that a CFL breaks in your home, use the cleanup procedure recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is
available at: http://www. epa. gov/mercury/spills/ind ex.htm#flourescent, or by calling the EPA's Region 2 Headquarters at 212-637- 3660. The recommended cleanup procedure for a broken CFL varies depending on the type of surface upon which the spill occurs. The first step for all spills is to air outthe room.
For spills occurring on hard surfaces, the EPA recommends that you avoiding vacuuming, while for spills that occur on carpeting or rug, if you are unable to pick up all visible glass fragments and powder using gloves or sticky tape, vacuuming is acceptable. The EPA recommendations also contain specific instructions for cleaning up broken CFLs that have come into contact with clothing, bedding and other soft materials.
You've enjoyed the light and savings of a CFL for seven, ten, or even twelve years when the bulb burns out. Now what? In New York City, residents are encouraged to drop off burned out CFLs at one of the Department of Sanitation's Special Waste Drop-Off Sites. The Drop-Off Site for Queens is located at College Point at 30th Avenue, between 120 and 122 Streets (See http://www.nyc.gov/html/nyc waste less/html/athome/specialwaste.shtml for more information). You may also drop off CFLs at any Home Depot or IKEA location for recycling at no charge.
If you must dispose of household CFLs in the trash, the Department of Sanitation asks that you double bag them in order to prevent injury to sanitation workers.
For more information about recycling potentially hazardous household products, you may want to visit the EPA's recycling website at: http://www. epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/recycle.htm. If you are unsure about how to properly dispose of a particular type of household waste, you can visit the New York City Department of Sanitations' Household Waste Disposal Website at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dsny/html/ faq/dispose_a-g.shtml for the answer.