Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Proper Packaging for CFLs

Safely recycling used fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) is important for the environment, but also for the health of consumers and handlers who come into contact with them. Exposure to mercury vapors can lead to significant risks including neurological damage. Despite the potential health issues, fluorescent lamps and CFLs are growing steadily in the industrial, commercial and residential markets. They are four to six times more efficient than incandescent bulbs, offer energy cost savings and deliver a longer working life. In order to safely dispose of and recycle used fluorescent lamps and CFLs, they must be properly packaged in an effective mercury-safe storage or shipping container that includes an adsorbent technology.

A study by NUCON International, Inc., a world-wide leader in providing gas, vapor and liquid phase adsorption solutions for mercury and other contaminants to the nuclear and other industries, found that within mercury-specific packaging, vapor levels can reach over 150 to 300 times OSHA’s 8-hour permissible exposure limit. A new, patent-pending adsorbent technology, recently announced at the Air & Waste Management Association’s Conference & Exhibition, can significantly reduce the mercury vapor levels in these storage and recycling packages. Levels were reduced by nearly 60 percent in only 15 minutes and over 95 percent after 12 hours, according to the study. The adsorbent is impregnated with powdered, activated carbon and reacted with proprietary inert chemicals, allowing it to effectively capture and reduce the mercury vapor from shattered lamps to a safe level within the shipping and storage package. In addition, the adsorbent can accommodate the high volume of mercury vapor that is released when several or all bulbs in a full package are broken. This provides an added layer of protection against incidental mercury exposure, offering consumers and other handlers a safer way to recycle their used fluorescent lamps and CFLs. A small consumer-size recycling bag, available soon, will also feature this technology and allow 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

Download a detailed White Paper on this technology at

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