Thursday, October 14, 2010

U.S. DOT Regulation of Fluorescent Lamp Transportation (Part 3 of 3)

In addition to the exceptions listed in the previous two posts, DOT regulations are, in general, relatively lax. They allow transport of used lamps in the original manufacturer’s packaging for a lamp, even though that packaging is almost certainly not designed to prevent the loss of mercury vapors. The DOT standard allows lamps (as long as each lamp contains less than five grams of mercury) to be transported in the “manufacturer’s original packaging” as long as the package contains less than 30 grams of total mercury.

Based on the mercury content assumptions described above, the DOT standard allows a lamp generator to transport any reasonable quantity (up to 1000 typical CFLs or low-mercury lamps) in the manufacturer’s original packaging. Read more about the need for more stringent packaging regulations in the blog post: Layers of Protection: Packaging Used Fluorescent Lamps.

Finally, most generators of used lamps are unlikely to comply with one specific requirement of DOT regulations. A shipper of used lamps must provide a “shipping paper” that indicates the quantity of mercury contained in the package. 49 C.F.R. § 173.164(c)((3)(iii). This requirement does not exist under federal and state universal waste rules that specifically exempt lamp generators and transporters from this type of record keeping in hopes of encouraging lamp recycling. While lamp recycling should be encouraged, it is only an effective method of preventing mercury vapor exposure and pollution when a proven package is utilized for storage and transportation of used lamps. For additional information on the U.S. DOT regulation of fluorescent lamp transportation, read Part 1 and Part 2 in this series.

Peder Larson
Larkin Hoffman

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