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Note: Intact used bulbs can be recycled at most Home Depot and Ace Hardware locations. Broken CFL’s are not accepted and must be disposed of at a hazardous household waste facility.
* Do not use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the breakage. This will spread the mercury vapor and dust throughout the area and could potentially contaminate the vacuum.
* Keep people and pets away from the breakage area until the cleanup is complete.
* Ventilate the area by opening windows, and leave the area for 15 minutes before returning to begin the cleanup. Mercury vapor levels will be lower by then.
* For maximum protection and if you have them, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the sharp glass.
* Carefully remove the larger pieces and place them in a secure closed container, preferably a glass container with a metal screw top lid and seal like a canning jar. A glass jar with a good seal works best to contain any mercury vapors inside. Other jars that can be made of glass and also work are pickle, peanut butter and applesauce jars. Not ideal but also a good choice for containing breakage is a heavy duty No. 2 plastic container with either a screw lid or push-on lid such as a joint compound bucket or certain kitty litter-type containers.
* Next, begin collecting the smaller pieces and dust. You can use two stiff pieces of paper such as index cards or playing cards to scoop up pieces.
* Pat the area with the sticky side of duct tape, packing tape or masking tape to pick up fine particles. Wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp paper towel to pick up even finer particles.
* Put all waste and materials into the glass container, including all material used in the cleanup that may have been contaminated with mercury. Label the container as “broken lamp.”
* Remove the container with the breakage and cleanup materials from your home. This is particularly important if you do not have a glass container.
* Continue ventilating the room for several hours.
* Wash your hands and face.
* Take the glass container with to a facility that accepts household hazardous waste (Closest: Naperville Fire Station No. 4, 1971 Brookdale Road. Open every Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. except holidays) If there is no permanent facility near your home, keep the glass container in a safe place until the next one day household hazardous waste collection occurs in your area. Do not take a broken CFL to a retail collection facility.
* When a break happens on carpeting, homeowners may consider removing throw rugs or the area of carpet where the breakage occurred as a precaution, particularly if the rug is in an area frequented by infants, small children or pregnant women.
* Finally, if the carpet is not removed, open the window to the room during the next several times you vacuum the carpet to provide good ventilation.
Reusable sharps containers offer an alternative that can divert millions of tons of plastic from incinerators, where harmful chemicals can be released into the atmosphere.
Reusable sharps containers are steam sterilized at high temperatures and pressure in autoclaves that renders any potentially hazardous or infectious waste inert. Medical waste from these sharps containers will go through the same process which allows this material to be safely transported as non-hazardous waste to landfills.
Also, there are currently options available that offer containers with up to 25 percent recycled plastic for use in medical facilities.
Individual Home Injectors Current U.S. EPA guidelines suggest disposing all sharps (needles, lancets and syringes) in a secure household plastic container or coffee can with a secure lid, although it is prudent to check with your local waste management department as this is not legal in some states.
Community Collection SitesSharps users can take their filled sharps containers to appropriate collection sites such as doctors’ offices, hospitals or pharmacies. Services are usually free, so be sure to check with your pharmacist or other health care provider for availability in your area.
Check with your local waste provider to find if sharps are collected at hazardous waste sites.
Mail-Back Programs These programs allow sharps users to place their used sharps in special containers which can then be returned by mail to a collection site for proper disposal. Fees vary, depending on the size of the container. Again, check with your health care provider, pharmacist, yellow pages, or search the Internet using keywords “sharps mail-back.” These programs are especially well-suited for rural communities that do not typically provide a medical waste pick-up service
Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP) Sharps users can safely exchange used needles for new needles. Contact the North American Syringe Exchange Network at 253-272-4857.
At-Home Needle Destruction DevicesThere are several products manufactured that allow the self-user to safely destroy used needles at home. These devices sever, burn or melt the needle, rendering it safe for disposal. Please check with your pharmacist or search the internet using keywords “sharps disposal service.