Stephen Hume of the Vancouver Sun recently profiled the proper handling and disposing of burnt-out CFL’s, or compact fluorescents, and his article raised some points that bear repeating. For example, did you know that each CFL contains enough mercury to fit on top of a ball point pen? (Mercury is considered a neurotoxicant)
While Health Canada assures us that CFL’s are safe, mercury is designated a highly toxic substance, and if a bulb breaks, it must be treated with extreme caution: evacuate the break site, and ventilate for 15 minutes before returning to clean up using disposable gloves and a gentle sweeping motion with your hands so as not to stir up the toxic mercury vapour. If the CFL has broken into carpeting, use duct tape to lift all traces of bulb. Once all the pieces have been collected, they need to be bagged, sealed and removed to your local household toxic waste site. If you have to use a vacuum, the bag needs to be disposed of and the vacuum itself needs to be wiped down afterwards.
Further information on safe disposal can be found here, but the article begged the question: if CFL’s are to be treated with such hostility if broken, how are they a safe and intuitive replacement to the standard incandescent?
Once again, LED’s remain the obvious alternative. In the meantime, if you have CFL’s in your household, treat them with extreme caution, and dispose of them properly at your local household recycling centre.