WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- A new consumer survey finds nearly 75 percent of homes now use CFL light bulbs. These compact fluorescent bulbs save money and energy.
And now that the government has mandated that all bulbs use 25 to 30 percent less energy, most consumers will have the bulbs in their home.
But CFLs contain mercury, and there are some concerns that these bulbs can be hazardous if you break one in the home.
EPA Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
WUSA 9 Call for Action partner Shirley Rooker shares important safety tips you can take in case you are accidentally exposed.
How to Clean Up A Broken CFL?
Since mercury can be a health hazard, you need to use care before cleaning up a broken CFL. Everyone, including pets, should leave the room. And, don't let anyone walk through the breakage on the way out.
Mecury Releases and Spills
Open the windows and let the room air out for at least 15 minutes before attempting to clean up the mess. Do not use a vacuum cleaner. Also, shut off the central heating or air conditioning system so that you don't get residue in the ducts.
How Do You Dispose Of A CFL?
Disposal is a challenge because in most jurisdictions you should not place them in your regular trash. Unfortunately, at this point, getting rid of CFLs can take some effort on your part.
Montgomery County CFL Disposal
Fairfax County CFL Disposal
Alexandria Solid Waste Disposal
For example, depending on where you live, you may have to take the bulbs to a special center for recycling hazardous waste.
In other areas, there will be very limited pickups, meaning you will have to keep burnt out bulbs in a secure place until they are collected.
Arlington County Environmental Waste
Prince George's County Waste Management Division
Howard County Compact Fluorescent Recycling
Some retailers have drop off programs for these bulbs, just check with each individual business.
Do CFLs Contribute to Skin Cancer?
A recent study at Stony Brook University has raised concerns that CFLs may contribute to skin cancer.
Researchers found that CFLs emit the same types of ultraviolet light that can cause skin cancer.
Effects of UV Emissions From CFL Exposure Study
They concluded that the bulbs should not be used in close proximity to people and that they are safer if placed behind a layer of glass.
Some experts recommend the use of sun screen to protect against the UVA and UVC rays emitted by compact fluorescent bulbs.