Your Green Life: CFL Recycling

By KBJR News 1

August 4, 2010 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 3:16 PM CDT

Compact fluorescents have a long lifespan, but it's illegal to throw them in the trash when they break or burn out.

So how should you get rid of them? Meteorologist Shannon Murphy has the answer in "Your Green Life."

"One of the concerns with compact fluorescent lighting is that it contains a very small amount of mercury," explained Karen Anderson, Director of Community Relations, WLSSD.

Mercury is an extremely toxic element that can severely damage the body if inhaled or ingested. It has been phased out of many instruments, but is part of the technology used in CFLs.

"The amount of mercury in a compact fluorescent bulb is very very small. The largest contributor of mercury in our environment today is the use of coal fired power plant and the more electricity we are generating the more mercury that is being released into the environment," said Anderson.

On average, over the lifespan of one incandescent bulb, about ten milligrams of mercury will be emitted into our surroundings but the use of CFLs reduce that by about 75-percent if recycled properly at the end of its life, which is a very easy task.

"Bring it to a facility, either a hardware store or a compact fluorescent bulb retailer like a large big box store, or to our household hazardous waste facility for recycling," advised Anderson.

CFLs are safe to use, it is recommended to handle them with care when replacing or transporting.
In Duluth, meteorologist Shannon Murphy, the Northland's NewsCenter.

Because of the mercury in fluorescent light bulbs, breaking a fluorescent bulb can be hazardous.

If you break a bulb, get out of the room and air it out. Put on rubber gloves and carefully pick up the pieces with sticky tape. Do not vacuum until this is done. Then put particles and clean-up materials in a plastic bag and seal it. Call your local Household Hazardous Waste facility for disposal instruction. Be sure to wash your hands when done!

You can also call the Minnesota Duty Officer at 800-422-0798 anytime for more.