The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) recommends the Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs be recycled at the end of their life. Each CFL does contain a small amount of mercury, usually around 5 milligrams, an amount that would cover the tip of a ball point pen. In comparison, a mercury fever thermometer usually contains about 500 milligrams of mercury. Mercury should be kept out of the environment, and although CFLs have a very small amount of this element, a responsible user will realize that everyone’s contribution to environmental stewardship by recycling is important.
If you should break a CFL or other fluorescent lamp in your home, the FDEP recommends that you use the following guidelines for clean up:
1. Ventilate the room
a. Open a window
b. Leave the room and restrict access for at least 30-minutes
c. If available, point a floor or pedestal fan at the open window. Using a ceiling fan will not be as helpful at moving the air out of the window.
2. Remove all materials you can and DO NOT VACCUM.
a. Wear disposable gloves, if available.
b. Carefully clean up the glass fragments and residue with a stiff paper or cardboard (such as playing cards or index cards).
c. Pick up any remaining small pieces of glass and residue using tweezers and sticky tape (such as masking or duct tape).
d. Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel, cloth or disposable wet wipe.
3. Double bag and recycle.
a. Place the broken CFL and cleanup materials in doubled plastic bags and seal the bags. Store the container outside of the house in an area inaccessible to children until you are able to dispose of it at a household hazardous waste location.
b. Take the materials to a local household hazardous waste center or collection event, or a fluorescent lamp recycling facility.
4. Wash your hands.
5. For breakage on carpet:
a. Complete steps above, then:
i. If rug is removable, take it outside, shake, and air out as long as practical
ii. After the cleanup, the first time you vacuum the area where the CFL was broken, shut the door to the room or close off the area from as much of the rest of the house as possible and ventilate the room when vacuuming. Remove the vacuum bag when done cleaning the area, wipe vacuum with wet wipe and put the bag and/or vacuum debris, including cleaning materials, into a plastic bag and double bag and store the bag outside the house in an area inaccessible to children.
iii. After vacuuming, keep window open, door closed and children/pets out of the room for 1-2 hours.
iv. Consider removal of carpeting where the breakage occurred as a precaution if there are infants, small children and/or pregnant women present who will be using the room.
Do not throw broken CFLs in household trash!
For EPA information on mercury and CFLs, visit www.epa.gov/mercury or www.energystar.gov and search for CFL
What should you do with a CFL when it burns out?
Spent CFLs should never be disposed of in regular household trash. Energy Star qualified CFLs have a warranty, so if the bulb fails within the warranty period, you may be able to return it to your retailer for replacement. If recycling is not an option, FDEP recommends that they be taken to a household hazardous waste collection site. These recommendations apply to recycling/disposal of all fluorescent bulbs, including fluorescent tube lamps and CFLs.
The Home Depot in Key West collects CFLs in need of recycling at their Return Desk Area. The Home Depot is located at 2811 North Roosevelt Blvd., Key West, FL 33040.
Waste Management hazardous materials collection days in the Lower Keys:
Stock Island Transfer Station, Jr. College Road
CFLs may be dropped off M-F from 7-3 p.m. Other Haz Mat materials: last Thursday of March, June, September and December from 7-3 p.m.
Cudjoe Key Transfer Station
First and third Wednesdays of every month from 9-4 p.m.
*Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list, and KEYS only offers it as a starting guide to better guide your CFL recycling/disposal efforts. KEYS would be pleased to list your business if you act as a collection point for CFL recycling/disposal. Please contact Julio J. Torrado by e-mail at Julio.Torrado@KeysEnergy.com to be added to this list.