I hate CFLs. When they came along, it was the height of the Global Warming scare, and they, along with bio-diesels, were the cure for the planet. All we had to do was spend $20 for what used to be $1, and all was well. Since they lasted seven years or more, that $20 would more than make up for itself in lower electric bills.
I had just built a new house, so I replaced all the incandescent bulbs. Probably spent about $500 doing it. My electric bill would be nothing.
Only problem was, I had to replace a bunch of them after a month or so. By six months I was in double digits. And, to make matters worse, I wasn’t even disposing them correctly. I was just tossing them in the garbage. How WRONG could that be? THIS is the proper disposal method:
Take the CFL bulbs to the recycling or Hazmat disposal point. Prepare bulbs for transport by wrapping them in cushioning materials to reduce the likelihood of breakage. A bulb breakage in transit will require you to exit your car, and possibly necessitate hiring a specialized decontamination service. (See References 2.)
Seems rather harsh for a light bulb dontcha think? And, I’m gonna bet that Hazmat bill alone would eat up whatever savings I was supposed to get for paying $20 for a $1 bulb.
But, it doesn’t stop there. I have had more than one EXPLODE. You wanna see what you’re supposed to do if one breaks? This, is according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And, you really DON’T want to mess with them.
- 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.
Now, with my old incandescent bulbs, that didn’t explode, and didn’t contain mercury, and didn’t emit radiation, I just tossed them in the trash. True story, I did just toss yet another CFL in my garbage last week. It had been in an outside lamp in the driveway. Our temps dropped to about fifteen below and killed it. It was kinda black and a little shattered. I imagine it heated too hot too fast and cracked. So, I stuck a brand new LED lamp in it and just tossed the CFL in the garbage. The next morning, the garbage had been taken. The whole garbage can was empty except for one item. That CFL. Apparently they’re so dangerous even the landfill doesn’t want them.
When I originally started griping about CFLs, the Feds had banned incandescent bulbs and the only alternative was the environmentally and health safety disaster that was the CFL. Now LED’s are becoming price competitive with CFL’s, don’t contain the nasty stuff in them, don’t emit radiation that I’m aware of, and seem to last more than a couple of months.
I think the EPA needs to just go ahead and ban CFL’s so that we can once again jump in blindly into a technology before we have a clue what we’re doing to appease people who cite bad science to justify something that’s not happening.