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Tips to Manage Fluorescent Bulbs

Fluorescent lamps are much more efficient than other types of lamps, but they contain mercury. Mercury can be dangerous to the environment and human health, so it’s important that proper steps are taken to dispose of fluorescent bulbs to decrease the amount of eliminate the problem.

1.      “Green” fluorescent lamps contain a smaller amount of mercury than regular fluorescent lamps, some are even considered to be non-hazardous waste. 

2.      Most fluorescent bulbs are considered hazardous and therefore should not be landfilled unless processed with a Bulb Crusher that meets emission regulations.

3.      Fluorescent bulbs should be managed in accordance with hazardous waste regulations

4.      Each state maintains a list of  places where you can recycle your fluorescent bulbs

5.      A laboratory test can be conducted to decide whether your lamps have a mercury level under the EPA’s limit (.2mg/L). Lamps that pass the test are not considered to be hazardous waste.

6.      Used bulbs should be stored safely to be kept from breaking. The container you bought them in or an appropriate container from a local recycler will work.

7.      The container should be labeled “Universal Waste-lamps”, “Waste Lamps” or Used Lamps” in accordance with state regulations. It should also be labeled with the date the first lamp was stored.

8.      Employees should be educated about lamp storage, mercury levels in lamps, and your waste management policies.

Steps to Take if a Lamp is Broken

1.      Do not inhale the mercury vapor. Allow the room to air out for half an hour before returning to it.

2.      If liquid mercury is spilled, purchase a mercury spill kit from a place that sells safety items.

3.      Clean up powder and broken glass with cardboard or stiff paper, then wipe the spill area down with a wet cloth.

4.      Make sure you wash your hands after cleaning a mercury spill.

5.      Use disposable gloves. You do not want to come into direct contact with the mercury.

6.      Broken lamps should be stored in a container labeled “Broken Fluorescent lamps”

7.      Label the container with a date and send it to a recycler within a year.

8.      Manage your lamps as hazardous waste if there is no recycler who will accept them near you.

Incandescent vs Fluorescent

1.      A CFL (compact fluorescent) bulb uses 66-75% less energy than an incandescent bulb and still lasts 6-10 times longer.

2.      Using CFLs actually reduces the amount of mercury released into the environment because less electricity is being used. CFLs are barely broken when managed properly and the mercury exposure when they are is very small

3.      Fluorescent lights are more efficient because incandescent lights use more than 90% of their energy to produce heat instead of light.

4.      CFL bulbs are better for the environment and much more efficient than incandescent bulbs.


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