Monday, May 17, 2010

Preventing health and safety hazards from fluorescent lamps

As rising energy costs and environmental concerns become increasingly important factors in consumers’ and businesses’ purchasing selections, fluorescent lamps have increased in popularity. However, fluorescent lamps are fragile and, upon breaking, these lamps release mercury vapor that can be detrimental to handlers' health—from those involved with handling new bulbs to people involved with storing, packaging and shipping used lamps.

Mercury vapor, which can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled, can cause neurological damage to adults, children and fetuses. (1) It is considered a persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemical, since it doesn't degrade in the environment. (2) When mercury vapor gets into water, it is converted to methyl mercury and can enter the food chain through fish. Methyl mercury causes damage to the central nervous system and it is also thought to be a possible human carcinogen. (3)

While a variety of containers are marketed for transportation of fluorescent lamps, many don't provide sufficient protection against mercury vapor emitted from broken lamps. Using a proven packaging design is vital to ensuring the safety of people who handle these lamps, as well as maintaining their green benefits.

1. Mercury Fact Sheet; Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 1999; available at (accessed October 1, 2007).
2. Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxic (PBT) Chemicals; Final Rule. Fed Regist. 1999, 64, 58666-58753.
3. Mercury Compounds Hazard Summary, 2000. Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics web site; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; available at (accessed November 20, 2007).

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

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