Be Warned!!!

The Ghana Standards Board (GSB) on Wednesday said Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) contained mercury and therefore must be handled and disposed of with care. �Mercury and most of its compounds are extremely toxic and are generally handled with care.� This was contained in a statement issued in Accra by Dr George B. Crentsil, Acting Executive Director of GSB and copied to Ghana News Agency to create awareness on the handling and disposal of CFLs. It said the common symptoms of mercury poisoning included sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech); disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination. �The type and degree of symptoms exhibited depend upon the individual, the dose, and the method and duration of exposure,� it added. The statement said CFLs were made of glass and could break when dropped or roughly handled and therefore care must be taken when removing the bulb from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it. Always screw and unscrew the light bulb by its base (not the glass), and never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket. �If a CFL breaks in your home, follow the clean-up by having people and pets leave the room, and don�t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out; open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more; carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder by using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.� The others are �using of sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass pieces and powder; wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag; do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces. The rest are �immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup; wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials; if clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage. The statement said; �you can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapour from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb. �If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal. Because mercury is poisonous, even these small amounts area concern for landfills and waste incinerators where the mercury from lamps may be released and contribute to air and water pollution. Do not dispose of CFLs in river bodies because when mercury emissions deposit into rivers, lakes and oceans, they can transform into methyl mercury that builds up in fish. CFLs should be properly handled at the end of their useful lives and they should be double-bagged in plastic before disposal.