Business-Use Disposal of Mercury-Containing Light Bulbs

If you own a business and use mercury-containing light-bulbs, it’s important to know how their use and disposal of is regulated.

Use and disposal of mercury-containing lights have both state and federal regulation. Every state has different policies and some may be more stringent than the federal policies. It’s always a good idea to check with your state regulatory office or local government to know exactly what you are responsible for.

In terms of federal regulations, most mercury-containing light-bulbs are considered hazardous waste. Even if your bulbs contain less mercury, it is always a safe course of action to treat them as you would other hazardous materials such as chemicals, tires, electronics equipment, or pesticides.

Under federal regulations, a mercury-containing bulb is considered non-hazardous if it contains less than 0.2 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of mercury – all others are placed in the toxic category. Bulbs that meet this criteria are not subject to federal regulations.

General knowledge about the mercury level in the bulb may or may not be provided by a manufacturer. Some states require manufacturers to test their bulbs to determine if they are non-hazardous, however, this is not a uniform practice. Under both federal and state laws, the ultimate responsibility for determining whether a bulb is hazardous lies with the person or business disposing of the waste, not the manufacturer. If you cannot prove with certainty that the bulbs you are disposing of are non-hazardous, then it’s safest to assume they are hazardous and dispose of them accordingly.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Responsibility lies with you and your business to ensure that hazardous waste is disposed of properly. Mercury is a hazardous material and  can easily contaminate soil and water is not handled properly.