Monday, May 24, 2010

Layers of protection: Packaging used fluorescent lamps

Many customers repurpose the packages fluorescent lamps are sold in—to store used lamps and eventually transport these lamps for disposal or recycling. However, the recent University of Minnesota study I conducted with my team of researchers found that these packages do not contain mercury vapor below permissible workplace exposure levels, as defined by state and federal authorities.

We also tested packaging configurations that enhance this single cardboard layer with a plastic bag, as well as packages that add a second layer of cardboard to the design—with the bags positioned between the two cardboard layers. The latter group contained two package varieties: a double-box with a thicker, tape-sealed plastic bag, and a double box with a foil-plastic laminate bag containing a zip closure. Both of these packages performed better than the other configurations. Yet, only the double box with the foil-plastic laminate bag delivered the necessary levels of protection.

This study indicates that all three layers of the last packaging configuration are critical in the effective containment of mercury vapor. The first cardboard layer provides structure to the configuration and protects contents from outside elements. The bag—which should feature a suitable material and tight seal—contains the mercury vapor, and the inner layer of cardboard prevents broken glass from puncturing the bag and rendering it ineffective.

Lisa Brosseau, ScD, CIH
Associate Professor
University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences

1 comment:

  1. whoa! what was that? can you check packaging peanuts? this is great! quite shocked somehow..