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  • 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.

    There’s a much simpler remedy, of course: Repeal the phase-out of Thomas Edison’s gift to mankind.

    Want to read more Tales of the Red Tape? Check out these stories below:

    #1: We See Dead People

    #2: The EPA Is Fueling Nonsense

    #3: Don’t Touch That Dial!

    #4: The Unwitting Peddlers of Toxic Tomes

    #5: Calorie Counts Forced Down Our Throats

    #6: Equine Equality Under the ADA

    #7: Energy Department Plumbing for More Regulatory Powers

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

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

    1. Stirling, Pennsylvan says:

      Sounds perfectly normal for a government that wants to regulate everyone to death. What better to do then to mandate a product into our homes that if not handled correctly will force the individual into calling the local government official office to clean it up, and who can keep a record of your behavior. Does the term "Lab Rat" sound appropriate to the general population which is being used to test these experiments of Nanny state policies?

    2. LibertyAtStake, Alex says:

      And as the cherry on top … new studies are showing normal operation of CFL's can cause cancer. Discussion here …. http://wyblog.us/blog/tech/cfl-bulbs-electrical-s….

      "Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

      • Joel says:

        If you've ever had anything to do with a "study", you know that the results of a study always favor the views and interests of the agency, association or corporation that funds the study. Every study that Al Gore funds confirms the dreaded global warming trend. That's no coincidence, now, is it?
        The question that I have is "If you know in advance what the answer is going to be, why not just SAY you did a study, instead of spending millions of dollars corrupting scientists and doctors?" The CDC was recently proven to have done that, and they are still getting our tax dollars….
        I'll bet the CFL study you cite was funded by some group or company that will siomehow profit by the result.

    3. Bobbie says:

      Talk about total hypocrisy, waste and hazardous government intervention! A threat to our human lives! Mercury is poisonous to the environment, (wonder what it does in mfg?" and so are the chemicals used to clean it up! The harm is definite and greater than all evidential worth. Nothing but a guise for make work, lead to crisis and more make work. Government business favoritism has to stop.

    4. Richard Rider, Chair says:

      Actually I prefer florescent bulbs — I'm a big greenie — when the green is the currency I'm saving on bulbs and electricity.

      But that is my PREFERENCE, adopted years before this government mandate phasing out the old light bulbs. With the new mandate, I'm tempted to go back to the old bulbs just because.

      As one of those children who often played with liquid mercury with my hands, I've actually been dead for several years now. Or not, depending on who you talk to.

      This EPA cleanup procedure is a gas — so to speak. I've seen less onerous procedures for detonating suspected nerve gas bombs. There have been instances where a broken florescent light in a classroom has closed some or all of a school, and called out the HazMat team in full regalia.

      And just TRY to properly dispose of a used florescent bulb — or a flashlight battery, for that matter. In San Diego, that means you must first make an appointment at the city dump prior to going out there. And you can make such an appointment ONLY on Saturday afternoons from 1 to 4 PM (or thereabouts). I imagine more people will die from the auto pollution and accidents driving to and from the dump than from mercury light bulb or battery poisoning.

      Of course, it ends up that no one does it, and the bulbs and batteries end up in the regular trash anyway — yet another way common folk can unknowingly commit criminal acts.

      'Vat a country!

    5. Jill-Maine says:

      I think I'm going to go out and buy every remaining safe olf fashioned light bulb I can get my hands on. This could also be a problem if it happens during the winter. Can you imagine shutting off the heat and opening a window in Maine during the winter months?

    6. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      Everyone has heard the old saying "follow the money". When we recognize that

      GE will make about double the profit on the new "CFL" as they now make on the

      old style bulbs, and since GE is one of Obama biggist supporters, not to mention GE has contributed almost two and a half million to Dems, we should understand why the Obama controled government EPA is shoving this down our throats.

    7. Wes in cincy says:

      Let’s see, if i now do not have any of those bulbs of poison
      In my home and i want to keep it that way for 10 more years, how many regular light bulbs do i have to hoard before the end of the year ? Hmmmmm… i think i can do it.

      How do you spell black market light bulbs ?
      China will see to it.

    8. Bobbie says:

      It's impractical in a household for every light to be mercury filled. We don't turn our lights on to leave them on to save energy except the kitchen, the only room we use a florescent light where it's practical. EVERY OTHER ROOM WOULD BE TOTALLY IMPRACTICAL!

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    11. Joel says:

      Actually, the most energy-efficient, durable, least hazardous lighting is LED's (Light-emitting diodes, like you have in your great new flashlight.). At the moment, LED's are quite expensive, but they're very , very bright in comparison to the minute amount of power they use, they last nearly forever, they're not terribly breakable, and they don't contain any hazardous chemicals (As far as I know.). I think that, as LED tech advances, CFL's will be relegated to the hazardous waste dumps of the world, and the government will manufacture some new crisis to regulate.

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