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Forum Post: How Many Hazmat Suits Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Posted 5 years ago on May 31, 2012, 9:34 p.m. EST by quatloo55 (10)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Tales of the Red Tape #8: How Many Hazmat Suits Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Lest anyone tell you that the phase-out of (non-toxic) incandescent light bulbs will be hassle-free (other than hugely expensive), here is the directive from the Environmental Protection Agency for ridding your home of toxic vapor in the event you or a loved one (or relative) breaks the mercury-laden compact fluorescent (CFL) pushed by the government as superior:

Have people and pets leave the room, and avoid the breakage area on the way out.

Open a window or door to the outdoors and leave the room for 5 to 10 minutes.

Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system (H&AC), if you have one.

Collect materials you will need to clean up the broken bulb: 1) Stiff paper or cardboard; 2) Sticky tape (e.g., duct tape); 3)Damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); 4) Glass jar with a metal lid (such as a canning jar) or a sealable plastic bag(s)

Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag. (NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.) 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.

Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.

Vacuuming of hard surfaces during cleanup is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. (NOTE: It is possible that vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor, although available information on this problem is limited.) If vacuuming is needed to ensure removal of all broken glass, keep the following tips in mind: 1) Keep a window or door to the outdoors open; 2) Vacuum the area where the bulb was broken using the vacuum hose, if available; and 3) Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and seal the bag/vacuum debris, and any materials used to clean the vacuum, in a plastic bag.

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 properly.

Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your area.

Some states and communities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center.

Wash your hands with soap and water after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing bulb debris and cleanup materials.

Continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the AC system shut off, as practical, for several hours.

The next several times you vacuum the rug or carpet, shut off the AC system if you have one, close the doors to other rooms, and open a window or door to the outside before vacuuming. Change the vacuum bag after each use in this area.

After vacuuming is completed, keep the H&AC system shut off and the window or door to the outside open, as practical, for several hours.

To avoid breaking a bulb, follow these general practices:

Always switch off and allow a working CFL bulb to cool before handling.

Always handle CFL bulbs carefully to avoid breakage:

1) If possible, screw/unscrew the CFL by holding the plastic or ceramic base, not the glass tubing;

2) Gently screw in the CFL until snug. Do not over-tighten;

3) Never forcefully twist the glass tubing.

Consider not using CFLs in lamps that can be easily knocked over, in unprotected light fixtures, or in lamps that are incompatible with the spiral or folded shape of many CFLs.

Do not use CFL bulbs in locations where they can easily be broken, such as play spaces.

Use CFL bulbs that have a glass or plastic cover over the spiral or folded glass tube, if available. These types of bulbs look more like incandescent bulbs and may be more durable if dropped.

Consider using a drop cloth (e.g., plastic sheet or beach towel) when changing a fluorescent light bulb in case a breakage should occur. The drop cloth will help prevent mercury contamination of nearby surfaces and can be bundled with the bulb debris for disposal.




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[-] 1 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 5 years ago

This is nothing new. Technically, you're supposed to do the same things with conventional fluorescent tubes, which have been around for decades. Nobody goes through all this, of course, they just sweep it up and throw it in the trash. People will do the same with these CFL's.

[-] 1 points by gestopomillyy (1695) 5 years ago

are you talking about those new spiral light bulbs?

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 5 years ago

Aren't do back at the lab for a bolt tightening?

[-] 0 points by DaMan (14) from Asheville, NC 5 years ago

1 if they know what they're doing......27 people, 3 days of work, 8 workers comp claims and 3 100% disability claims if it's a union job........

I bought piles of 100w and other STANDARD bulbs before this crap started...Flickering florescent lights screw up young eyes.

[-] -1 points by tupacsugar (-136) 5 years ago

Shit,looks like more unintended consequences that were never considered by the fucking genius's who crammed this bullshit down our throats. RINO's and Leftist's were both responsible for this fucking nightmare. This one small issue is a very big issue and is going to come back and bite us years from now. It pisses me off as much as any of this "going green" bullshit.

[-] 2 points by gestopomillyy (1695) 5 years ago

what makes you think it was 'un' intended? you really think they didnt know this before hand? bush is the one that passed this ridiculous law and the one about elimination of analog communication signals. no body said a word.

[-] -1 points by tupacsugar (-136) 5 years ago

Like I said RINO's were also responsible,Bush was a RINO.

[-] 0 points by quatloo55 (10) 5 years ago

It's gonna get so you can't do anything in the USA without sending some form in triplicate to some federal agency packed with bureaucrats.

You'll have to ask for permission for everything and wait 180 days to get an answer from the Department of Idiocy.

That's why everyone with half a brain is outsourcing and moving overseas. Who can blame them?

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

NYC banned restuarants from making donations to the homeless.....city needs to check salt content first.

[-] 1 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 5 years ago

Jeez! A good example of just how fucked-up things have become.