Yesterday, one of my kitchen bulbs, the kind that is screwed into a base in the ceiling, burned out, broke free from the base, dropped to the kitchen floor and shattered, sending glass everywhere. I spent a half hour going over the floor repeatedly, each time finding more pieces of glass. I stopped cleaning only when I made two passes in a wide perimeter and found nothing.
Obviously, I wasn’t thrilled by the experience, given that broken glass is as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel. With a house filled with dogs and children, the last thing I need is for someone to slice a foot open.
I did, however, console myself with the thought that it could have been a whole lot worse. The bulb that broke was one of the old-fashioned, now illegal, incandescent bulbs. Just imagine if it had been a modern, government-mandated CFL bulb. filled with mercury. These are the EPA’s instructions for cleaning a broken CFL bulb:
- 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.
So, let’s review what the greenies have brought us:
- Broken bulbs that turn homes into toxic waste zones.
- Solar panels that barbecue birds
- Wind power generators that shred birds
- Biofuels that generate C02 before, during, and after production, and that turn whole countries (e.g., Egypt) into famine zones
We’ll be lucky if we survive the greenies’ so-far unstoppable efforts to save the world from the horrors of fossil fuels.