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Recycle A to Z

Compact Fluorescent Bulb/Fluorescent Tube

Recycle

Why Recycle?

Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs contain significant amounts of mercury that can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Mercury is a toxic substance harmful to both humans and wildlife. When fluorescent tubes/bulbs are broken, the mercury contained within can be released, creating a risk of exposure to the mercury vapor. Mercury that is exposed to the air can enter the environment and be deposited in lakes and rivers, where it can be transformed into highly toxic methylmercury. A half-teaspoon of mercury can contaminate an average lake for several hundred years. Fish or other wildlife can then ingest mercury passing it up the food chain to humans. Once mercury enters the food chain, it is nearly impossible to remove. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 600 million fluorescent tubes/bulbs are disposed of annually, with over 80% ending up in landfills. Instead of landfilling your lamps, they can now be recycled.

Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs may be taken to a household hazardous waste (HHW) disposal facility or event to be recycled. Recycled materials that can be recovered from the tubes/bulbs are aluminum, glass, phosphor and nearly pure liquid mercury. The locations and the hours and days of operation of the facilities and events are listed below:

How Should I Clean Up a Broken Flourescent Bulb?

  1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
    • Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.
    • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
  3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.
    • Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the outdoor trash container or
    • Transport to a HHW disposal facility or event.
    • Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.
  4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet:
    • First, remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
    • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or
    • Transport to a HHW disposal facility or event.

Proper Disposal

Free Household Hazardous Waste Disposal

If you are a resident of Clark County or one of its cities, you may dispose of unwanted household hazardous waste products at any of the following HHW collection programs. Business-generated hazardous waste will not be accepted.

Home Collection

Eligible senior and citizens with disabilities who are unable to transport HHW to a collection site or event may call (360) 397-6118 ext. 4352 to see if they qualify for a free home pick up.

Fixed Collection Facilities

Satellite Collection Events

 

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