Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bye Bye Bulb

Thank you Thomas Edison. For over 129 years your invention has kept us out of the dark and will continue to do so for about another four years. Thanks to the energy bill that congress passed the incandescent light bulb will be phased out in the United States by 2012. Please observe a moment of darkness.

Our replacement options at the moment, while much more energy efficient, are limited. Looks like we'll all be using those curly-topped Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) for a while. Of course, who knows what will be available by 2012. We may not even have electricity any more by then. We may be back in the stone age, or at least medieval times.

In any case, since I'm a safety guy, I would be remiss if I didn't use this opportunity to pass along some safety info. As you may or may not know those CFL's contain Mercury which is toxic (in spite of the fact that we all at one time or another played with it as a kid). Breaking one of those CFL's is not really a good thing and since we all know we've broken a light bulb ot two, here are some guidelines for cleaning up one of these Mercury laden babies without having to resort to calling an environmental cleanup contractor. These come to you from the State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The most important thing to remember is to never use a vacuum . A standard vacuum will spread mercury containing dust throughout the area as well as potentially contaminating the vacuum. What you should do is:

Keep people and pets away from the breakage area so that the mercury in the powder inside the bulb is not accidentally tracked into other areas.

Ventilate the area by opening windows.

Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as rubber gloves, safety glasses, old clothing or coveralls, and a dust mask (if you have one) to keep bulb dust and glass from being inhaled.

Carefully remove the larger pieces and place them in a secure closed container, preferably a glass container with a metal screw top and gasket seal like a canning jar.

Next, begin collecting the smaller pieces and dust. You can use a disposable broom and dustpan or two stiff pieces of paper to scoop up pieces.

Put all material into the glass container. Pat the area with the sticky side of duct, packing or masking tape. Wipe the area with a damp cloth or paper towels to pick up fine particles.
Put all waste and materials used to clean up the bulb in the glass container and label it “Universal Waste - broken lamp”.

Take the container for recycling as universal waste. To determine where your town has made arrangements for recycling of this type of waste, call your town office.

So there you have it. We save energy but we have to put down a drop cloth and don protective gear to change a light bulb. I guess everybody has to do their part.


Tequila Mockingbird said...

i thought the best way to make sure you dont misuse a lightbulb is to recycle it by smoking meth out of it once it doesnt work anymore. waste is bad for the environment, right?

Mike said...

So will snorting one of those broken curly top bulbs get me high? I mean after all, that is what it is all about, isn't it?

Bruce, a work in progress said...

TM, yes, and light bulb is a terrible thing to waste. And this is your brain on meth.

Mike, it won't get you high but it will make you mad as a hatter. So you have nothing to worry about.

Malach the Merciless said...

I find tongue cleaing like a cat works on that. I have already replace 95% of my house with those bulbs, and I am saving $30 a month in energy costs.

Kitty said...

*Makes note to self to get safety glasses, overalls, a dust mask and a glass container with a metal screw top*

Who knew a light bulb could be so complicated? :-O I remember us 'playing' with Mercury at school in the Chemistry labs - suffice it to say none of the above was anywhere near us.

Thanks for the tips. :-) x

pissed off patricia said...

Before the info came out about the mercury in the bulbs, we had already broken one and cleaned it up just like we would have any other bulb.

Yikes, for what we save in $$ we spend on hazmat suits

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Mal, I tend to find that glass particles get stuck in my tongue when I do that. We've replaced a bunch too. Our costs have gone down too but we're in a new house, in a new state so I'm not sure exactly why. Too many variables changed.

Kitty, it seems like all of life is getting more complicated. As far being exposed to this stuff, I did a post a while back on balance and talked about the dose making the poison. It's all about the dose.

POP, welcome!
We had one break but it was one that the power company sent to us welcoming us to their service. They were encouraging everyone to be green. The really ironic part was that the box with the broken bulbs arrived with a note warning about them containing mercury and how to properly dispose of them. It was covered with dust and glass.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

but i think meth makes my boobs look bigger. granted i havent tried meth ever, but i have a hunch.

Joey Polanski said...

And fokes think we POLACKs make a big deal outta changin a lightbulbski!

Anonymous said...

Looks like we all need to stock up on the candles!

Hungry Mother said...

It's going to take a few more Polocks to change light bulbs now.

Colonel Colonel said...

Mercury is bad-ass stuff to fool with. I'm going to start stocking enough "real" bulbs to last a decade or two.

Joey Polanski said...

Yknow, you migt save yerself a LOT a friggin trouble if youd jus invest in a highr-quality lightbulbski.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

TM, in that case meth for everybody! I'll buy the first round.

JOEY!!! Where ya been buddy? How many of ya'll does it take to clean up a mercury spill?

Prepon, candles are much more romatic anyway. How are ya honey, you haven't been around?

HM, it's okay we've got Joey in charge of that. He's all over it, right Joey?

Col, yeah mercury is pretty bad. I'm sure being into books as you are you know that mercury was the source of the Mad Hatter's illness.

Joey Polanski said...

Im tired o screwin in light bulbs. Id rathr spring fer a motel room.

Oh, by th way ...

When ya spill mercury, donit break up & roll away in little silvr balls?

Souns t me like it cleans itself up.

BBC said...

As LED's improve they will become more popular. The white ones are expensive so many companies use the blue ones as they are cheaper.

But it's best to just pay more and get lights with white led's.

DrowseyMonkey said...

I don't like them...I'm stocking up on the old ones...which may cause more global warming.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Joey, silvery balls? How Christmasy.

BCC, yeah, I've read that LEDs are coming along and could be the next thing. I don't think they're quite there yet though.

DM, my wife doesn't like them either. I can get used to them for general use but there are some specific applications where they don't seem to work real well.