Monday, August 13, 2012

Absorbing Mercury Vapor

The health risks associated with mercury vapor exposure underscore the importance of safe recycling and disposal of fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Mercury vapor, which can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled, can cause neurological damage in adults, children and fetuses. Efforts to protect consumers and CFL handlers are currently focused on containing the mercury vapor in specially designed mercury storage and shipping containers. Yet when these packages are opened or perforated, dangerous levels of vapor can escape from broken bulbs. To protect against the possibility of vapor exposure, a newly released, patent-pending adsorbent can be included within mercury storage and shipping containers.

This adsorbent was recently announced at the Air & Waste Management Association’s Conference & Exhibition and is placed within a storage and shipping package. Commercially-used packages should be made up of three layers—with a foil-plastic bag positioned between two cardboard box layers. The adsorbent is impregnated with powdered activated carbon and proprietary inert chemicals, and adheres to the interior flap of the box. According to a study by NUCON International, Inc., a world-wide leader in providing gas, vapor and liquid phase adsorption solutions, the adsorbent can effectively capture mercury vapor and reduce vapor levels by nearly 60 percent after only 15 minutes, more than 70 percent within an hour and over 95 percent after 12 hours, protecting consumers and handlers from mercury vapor exposure. A small consumer-size recycling bag, now available, features this technology and allows people to safely store three to four used lamps at home before taking them to a retailer or municipality that accepts CFLs for recycling.

View a short animated depiction of the adsorption process at or download a detailed White Paper on this technology at

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