Mercury and Fluorescent Lights: a Dangerous Duo

Carbon Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) are a very popular lighting choice in our homes, offices, schools, and businesses. However, these lights often contain mercury – a highly toxic substance to humans, animals, and the environment.

The next time you’re called on to remove or replace fluorescent lights, keep a few of these safety tips in mind:

  1. When you throw a bulb into the trash it will break and release the mercury. Make sure to always recycle these bulbs in a proper manner. If you are unsure how to go about doing this, contact your local transfer station or municipal office. Some areas have designated drop-off areas or days.
  2. While the  mercury in these bulbs is very hazardous, the other materials comprising the bulb are excellent for recycling – the glass and metal can be easily reused and re-manufactured into other items.
  3. Recycling may be mandatory in your state! In places like California, Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts and others, the state regulations require bulbs containing mercury to be recycled. You’re breaking the law if you don’t follow!
  4. So what do you do if your state or town doesn’t require or offer recycling for CFLs? Some retailers have independent recycling programs – check online or ask your favorite home and construction supply store if they offer such services.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Newer fluorescent lights do not pose the same hazards as the older, mercury-containing ones. However, as these lights are very cost-effective and have a long-life of use, remembering to properly recycle them is essential.