How to Dispose of Lightbulbs and 9 Other Hazardous Items

When in doubt, don’t toss it out — read this first
broken lightbulb Photo: Nathalie Speliers Ufermann/Shutterstock
lightbulbs
antifreeze
old stove
sharp bottles
cooking grease
insulin needles
broken lightbulb
expired medication
mercury thermometer
paint cans
pesticides
smoke detector
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Lightbulbs

Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs can go in the trash when their life is over, but fluorescent bulbs are a different story. They contain a bit of mercury gas, so they require special disposal. Check with your local hardware or home improvement store to see if they recycle them. Or look for a disposal site by searching Earth911.org.

When a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb breaks, clear kids and pets out of the room and put on gloves, Holtzman says. Then turn off your central air or heating system and open a window or door to air out the space for several hours, the EPA recommends.

Use stiff cardboard to gather up any glass fragments, and put them in a glass jar with a lid or in a sealable plastic bag. Then, use sticky tape to pick up powder or tiny glass fragments. (The EPA offers more detailed cleanup instructions.) Check with your city to see if you must take the broken bulb to a recycling center or if you may toss it in your household trash.

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