Proper Disposal of Mercury-Containing Lamps and Devices

1.      Mercury-containing lamps and devices are a very large source of mercury in the waste stream.

2.      Examples of MCLs and MCDs are fluorescent lamps, thermostats, and thermometers.

3.      While these items are useful in everyday life, mercury can be dangerous to the environment when not handled properly.  Therefore, steps should be taken to ensure that devices that use mercury are disposed of properly.

4.     There are state approved mercury recovery facilities. These facilities can be utilized to dispose of MCLs and MCDs properly.

5.      According to federal law, MCLs must first be tested to see whether they are considered hazardous materials or not before disposal. If no testing is conducted or no other information is known as to the hazardousness of the MCLs, all MCLs must be determined to be hazardous and must be disposed of accordingly.

6.      Do not dispose of mercury-containing lamps or devices in the trash.

7.      Lamps known to be low-mercury or high-intensity discharge lamps are still required to be tested before disposing of them as nonhazardous waste.

8.      Hazardous lamps are required to be disposed of in a hazardous waste landfill or sent to a lamp recycling facility. Never bring MCLs to an incinerator.

9.      The average cost to recycle fluorescent lamps is $0.10 per foot.

10.   The average cost to recycle an HID lamp is $2.50 per lamp.

11.   The average cost to dispose of a fluorescent lamp at a hazardous waste landfill ranges from 25-50 cents per four foot tube.

12.   Lamps must be properly stored, packaged, and transported to recycling or disposal facilities in accordance with RCRA.

         All containers of hazardous materials must be labeled correctly.

         Lamps should be stored so as to be safe from breakage.

13.   Lamp crushers can also be bought to crush lamps in house before disposal. These should be used with care to ensure that mercury vapor does not escape.

Useage of Fluorescent Lamp Crushers

1.      Drum-top lamp crushing equipment can potentially save money on transportation and disposal costs for fluorescent lamps by reducing the volume of lamps, making them easier to transport and store. Crushed fluorescent lamps can also be disposed of according to universal waste regulations.

2.      Crushers must be used carefully because mercury vapor is tasteless, odorless, and colorless, making it hard to detect if it is leaked.

3.      Maintenance of crushers (including frequent filter changes) is required and all operators must be properly trained in the usage and familiar with the operation of the machinery.

4.      Generators are allowed to use drum-top lamp crushers if:

        The lamps are to be recycled.

        The lamps enter their final container straight from the crushing equipment.

        The lamps are crushed in a controlled manner to ensure that mercury vapor
          is not released.

        Employees using the crusher are trained in its use and can comply with the
         emergency procedures in case of a malfunction



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