1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

June 23, 2008

:175 Nearby SuperFund Sites

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:175 EcoTip: Scorecard  provides one method for screening for toxic waste sites in your area. Enter your zip-code in their searchable data base for a list of hazard sites and their status. This is also helpful for double checking property disclosures when you are considering moving.

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Additional Information:

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June 22, 2008

:174 ScoreCard

Filed under: :174 ScoreCard — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:13 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:175 EcoTip: ScoreCard is a zip-code based searchable data base for various pollution sites in the United States. Go to Scorecard to see how your area is rated for chemical releases, superfund sites, water quality and many other factors. Over the next several days I will be providing some tips for using the ScoreCard for evaluating building sites.

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 Additional Information:

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March 4, 2008

:064 Non-stick cookware

Filed under: :064 Non-stick Cookware — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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Suggested Review – none

1:5:10:064 Tip: Overheating non-stick cookware can lead to the release of toxic fumes. The fumes have killed pet birds and been implicated in causing a type of fume fever in people.

Health Canada says: “Nonstick coatings are a risk if they are heated to temperatures greater than 350°C or 650°F. This might happen if an empty pan is left on a burner. In this case, the coatings can give off irritating or poisonous fumes.”.

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Additional Information

Here’s what Dupont has to say about safe cooking practices.

http://www.teflon.com/Teflon/downloads/pdf/safety_tips.pdf

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January 30, 2008

:030 Mercury Clean-up

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United Kingdom instructions for cleaning up broken CFLs

Suggested Review – :028, :029

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:030 Tip:  When fluorescent tubes break they release the hazardous heavy metal mercury. The above ten steps are the published recommendations in the United Kingdom. I would add to these ten steps EPAs recommendation to:  Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

See you tomorrow

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Additional Information

EPA’s information on broken CFL clean-up can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/index.htm#flourescent 

They have additional mercury clean-up information including for broken thermometers. They state:

What Never to Do with a Mercury Spill

  • Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury (but see the “What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks” section below for more specific instructions about vacuuming broken fluorescent light bulbs). The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure. The vacuum appliance will be contaminated and have to be thrown away.
  • Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.
  • Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems during plumbing repairs. If discharged, it can cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.
  • Never wash mercury-contaminated items in a washing machine. Mercury may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
  • Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury. Contaminated clothing can also spread mercury around.

Top of page

What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks

USEPA states: Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal guidelines:

  1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
    1. Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.
    2. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
  3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.
    1. Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the outdoor trash container or in another outdoor protected area for the next normal trash disposal.
      Note: Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a local recycling center.
    2. Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.
  4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet:
    1. First, remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
    2. If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

[Note from John Banta: some sources are now stating the area of carpet that came in contact with the mercury should be cut out and thrown away. In any case vacuuming the area as suggested by EPA could release additional mercury vapors into the air of the home. It would be safer if the vacuum cleaner could be set outside or its exhaust directed to the outside where it would be diluted. Still none of this is very comforting.]

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January 29, 2008

:029 CFL Safe Disposal

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:029 Tip: Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) contain an average of 5 milligrams of mercury (older ones may have up to 20 milligrams). They should be recycled to remove and reclaim the mercury to prevent it from contaminating landfills with the hazardous waste. 

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Tomorrow I will talk about what to do if a fluorescent tube breaks.

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Additional Information

href=”https://1510365blog.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/029-cfl-safe-disposal/attachment/108/”>Suggested Review – :028

Every county in the United States is supposed to have a hazardous waste disposal program, but most don’t accept fluorescent bulbs and tubes.

IKEA stores have added mercury recycle/disposal station in its customer service area where they accept used CFLs and batteries at no charge.

Sylvainia corporation has set up a disposal program using the RecyclePac shown above. The pack contains padding material in a shipping box which is sent by to the recyclers. The cost of disposal works out to a little over a dollar a bulb.

Check with www.earth911.org to find other disposal options by entering your zip-code (or call 1-877-EARTH911).

According to the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers: 

“70.8% of the mercury-lamps used by business and 98% of the lamps used in homes are not being recycled.”

You can obtain a copy of their annual report and additional information at www.lamprecycle.org.

EPA has the following website to help you: Find fluorescent light bulb recycling programs in your area

Finally you should check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options if they don’t have an easy recycling/disposal process in place in your community, you may choose to lobby them and your local community government to set something up.

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