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Fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps contain mercury, a potent nerve toxin. Mercury can harm the brain, liver, and kidneys and can cause developmental disorders in children. When lamps and other products containing mercury are placed in the trash, the mercury can find its way into the air, water, and soil. In water bodies, mercury can bio-accumulate in the food chain. Today more than 40 states have issued advisories warning pregnant women and young children not to eat certain fish that may be contaminated with mercury.

All mercury-containing lamps, regardless of the amount of mercury, should be handled as a hazardous ("universal") waste and stored carefully to avoid breakage. There are no non-mercury fluorescent or HID lamps available at this time. Green tip or low-mercury fluorescent lighting contains less mercury, but should not be placed in the trash. NEWMOA has conducted several projects to advance recycling of fluorescent lamps.

From 2002-2005 NEWMOA supported outreach to electrical distributors and commercial property managers to promote fluorescent lamp recycling. This project produced the following guidance materials:

Terri Goldberg, Executive Director of NEWMOA, joined Bruce Gellerman of the radio program "Living on Earth" to talk about the environmental benefits and impact of fluorescents and recycling the bulbs in 2007.

In 2009, NEWMOA prepared the report, Review of Compact Fluorescent Lamp Recycling Initiatives in the U.S. and Internationally, funded under a contract with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

For more information, contact Rachel Smith at rsmith@newmoa.org.

 

 

Last Modified 05/17/2013

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