Light bulbs are fragile by nature, so they tend to break when you least expect it. But, did you know that fluorescent lights contain mercury dust that is hazardous to your health if inhaled? Fluorescent light bulb sleeves are the perfect tools to protect you and your employees from potentially being exposed to this harmful substance.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are some precautions that should be heeded when cleaning up and disposing of broken fluorescent bulbs:
- Before Cleanup
- Have people and pets leave the room.
- Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
- Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
- Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
- stiff paper or cardboard;
- sticky tape;
- damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
- a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.
- DO NOT VACUUM. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
- Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder. Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag. See the detailed cleanup instructions for more information, and for differences in cleaning up hard surfaces versus carpeting or rugs.
- Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.
- Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
- Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
- If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours. (https://www.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl):
Once more, business owners are strongly encouraged to consider installing fluorescent light bulb sleeves to guard against the inherent dangers of fluorescent lamp breakage by retaining the shattered glass and phosphors. Not only will they reduce cleaning cycles, but they also minimize lamp replacement due to breakage. Diffuser Specialists has specialty tubes designed for special purposes available in all sizes, and you can begin the ordering process online.