Wednesday, February 16, 2011

State and Federal Packaging Rules and Regulations

Federal regulations do not currently mandate the use of packaging designed to prevent the loss of mercury vapor. However, this may not continue to be the case. As the awareness of the dangers of mercury vapor increases, so have the federal and state rules that regulate its disposal.

In 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established environmental and transportation regulations, including packaging requirements for fluorescent lamps. They require lamps to be managed in containers designed to prevent breakage. However, they do not require the container to be designed to prevent the loss of mercury vapor. In 2005, the EPA added a requirement mandating that packaging be designed to prevent mercury from escaping into the environment.

The state of Washington recently signed Senate Bill 5543, making this state the first to address the dangers of unsafe packaging and transportation of used fluorescent lamps, as well as other mercury containing devices. Due to the ineffective nature of most packaging configurations utilized for shipping used fluorescent lamps, the new law mandates that these devices are packaged and shipped in material that will minimize the release of mercury into the environment. The law additionally requires packages to include mercury vapor barrier materials if lamps are transported by the United States postal service, a common carrier, or collected via curbside programs and mail-back businesses. Washington has set the precursor for additional states to follow. Read more about additional state regulations regarding safe packaging of used fluorescent lamps.

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

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