Having family and friends over for the holidays or special occasions? Doing a little cosmetic upkeep before they arrive? If one of the things on your to-do list is replacing those burnt-out fluorescent bulbs in your kitchen or bathroom, then there are a few things you should know before simply tossing that glass tube in the trash can.
You’re Holding Hazardous Waste in your Hands
One of the defining features of fluorescent lamps and tubes is the reactive gases the use inside. One of them is mercury vapor – a very toxic waste product that can be released into the environment and in your own home if not handled properly. The EPA urges consumers not to throw their old bulbs in the trash as they will certainly break. When the lamps break they release mercury into whatever environment they’re in. They may look just like another bulb, but don’t treat them that way.
Take care when Handling
As with any glass object, take care when handling them as the sharp glass will cut you. A good practice is to wrap or tape each bulb so that in the even that it does break, the fragments will be contained. On top of that, broken fluorescent lamps release mercury vapor into the air that can be absorbed through the lungs and into the bloodstream. Any fragments containing mercury, if left outside will also wash into streams and rivers when it rains.
If the Fluorescent Bulb Breaks
If your lamp does break when replacing, halt! Put that vacuum cleaner away. Vacuum cleaners blow air out and will disperse harmful mercury vapor into the air of your home. Instead of vacuuming, don a pair of latex gloves and carefully clean by hand. Wipe the area with damp, disposable towels making sure not wipe over an area greater than the one affected. Keep your people and your pets away from the area and ventilate the entire house by opening windows and doors.
Where you can Recycle
Many states and cities have their own fluorescent light recycling programs in place to deal with management and prevention of pollution. You can find a recycling center near you by using this helpful locator from earth911.com.
Get your replacement Fluorescent Light covers at Diffuser Specialist
Now that you know how to safely dispose of those old bulbs, maybe it’s time you replaced and updated those old fluorescent light covers too! At Diffuser Specialist we carry a wide array of light covers to suite your needs, and if we don’t have it – we’ll make it! Visit our products page to find your cover today.