Water Quality District - Hazardous Waste
What Makes Them Hazardous?
Fluorescent bulbs, tubes, high intensity discharge (HID) lamps, and neon lamps present a hazard because they contain mercury, which is toxic to many organ systems, including the central nervous system. If lamps are broken and the mercury is released, inhaling the vapor can cause damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. Fluorescent bulbs and tubes contain very small amounts of mercury, save energy and reduce mercury from coal-fired power plants, so using them is a good idea. But proper recycling is important, because they do contain small amounts of mercury.
- Do not put fluorescent lamps in the trash because they contain mercury.
- Cushion bulbs to help prevent breakage. Place in original packaging or a little bubble wrap or newspaper on each end of the bulb secured with a rubber band works great. (Avoid using tape, it slows down the recycling process.)
- Transport bulbs carefully. Avoid transporting children with fluorescent lamps.
- In case a fluorescent lamp breaks during transport, ventilate the vehicle immediately by rolling down all the windows. Depending on the amount of bulbs broken, it may take 30 minutes to several hours before the mercury vapors are gone. Sweep up the debris, put in two ziplock bags (or similar container) and deliver to Haz Waste Days, in September.
- If you break a bulb or spill mercury in your home, the EPA has adopted guidelines for cleanup. Visit the EPA web page.
- Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Lowes are currently accepting unbroken compact fluorescent bulbs (cfls) for free!
- Palmer Electric Technology accepts fluorescent lamps and ballasts for recycling. Call them directly (543-3086) for costs, and arrangements for drop-off.
- Remove lamps and ballasts from fixture.
- Place lamps in original packaging to prevent breaking or wrap the ends in newspaper and secure with a rubber band.
- Avoid putting tape on the bulbs. The tape slows down the recycling process.
- Use rubber bands and some newspaper to cushion bulbs during transport.
- Avoid transporting children with fluorescent lamps.
The Residential Disposal Guide is provided by the Missoula Valley Water Quality District as a public service and is not an endorsement of specific businesses, services or products. Any omissions or inaccuracies are unintentional. Please contact us with corrections or additions. Call businesses or agencies to confirm hours, locations and charges for services, if any. For information on disposal of items not listed, email or call the Water Quality District at 406-258-4890, M - F, 8 am to 5 pm.
Some of the information provided is from the Washington County, MN, Dept. of Public Health and Environment website.
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