Fluorescent Lamp Management Facts for Massachusetts

Massachusetts Department of Envionmental Protection

Using fluorescent lamps makes business and environmental sense because they consume one quarter as much electricity as incandescent lighting. At the same time, spent and broken fluorescent lamps need to be handled very carefully because they contain small amounts of mercury. Standard linear fluorescents, lamps with green end caps or green marking, compact fluorescents, high intensity discharge (HID), neon and high-pressure sodium lamps used in outdoor lighting all contain mercury.

The Mercury Management Act, enacted in 2006, prohibits all items that contain mercury, including low mercury fluorescent lamps, from being thrown in the trash effective May 1, 2008. As of this date, all mercury containing lamps must be recycled or managed as hazardous waste.

Why is mercury a problem?

Mercury is toxic to the human nervous system, kidneys, liver and immune system. When inhaled or ingested, it can cause a range of physical symptoms. Mercury that is released to the environment “bioaccumulates” in fish – that is, it builds up in their tissue over time – making them less healthful or even dangerous to eat. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has advised pregnant women, nursing mothers, women of child bearing age and children under 12 to avoid eating most freshwater fish from Massachusetts lakes, rivers and streams. DPH has also recommended that all Massachusetts residents avoid certain fish from those bodies of water where sampling has revealed a significant mercury problem.

Recycling Fluorescent Lamps with Air Cycle

BE EP trimmed

While the mercury content of fluorescent lamps means that they need to be recycled, it can be cost-effective and simple to do so. EasyPak™ mail-in containers include prepaid shipping and optional automatic reordering for small lamp quantities, while the Bulb Eater® lamp crusher can reduce overall recycling costs by up to 50% over intact lamp recycling for large quantities. Learn more » Air Cycle lamp recycling solutions

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