Monday, June 7, 2010

TCLP Tests

According to EPA estimates, approximately 75 to 80 percent of fluorescent lamps are not recycled and are usually placed in dumpsters or trash containers. Fluorescent lamps in dumpsters present a considerable danger. One study found that mercury is "strongly and persistently" emitted from dumpsters that contain broken fluorescent lamps.1 The data indicates a preliminary loss rate of ~25µg/h from one bulb contained in a closed dumpster. The bulb continued to emit mercury at this rate for more than a week, and at ~50 µg/h on the 8th day following breakage.

Federal policies contain exemptions that help keep the recycling rate low. For instance, lamps that pass the Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) mercury test are currently exempt from recycling requirements. However, some lamp manufacturers put extraneous additives in the lamps—such as ascorbic acid—that compromise the test and skew the results.

In 2000—following an extensive debate focused on whether or not a disposal ban should apply to lamps that pass the TCLP—the Maine Legislature decided to enact the ban on all mercury-added lamps. New and used lamps from ten popular lamp models were collected and tested for total mercury and TCLP mercury by dedicated testing procedures. Results indicate that lamps that pass the TCLP test contain comparable total mercury results as the corresponding lamps that fail TCLP, suggesting that the disposal ban on all mercury-added lamps is appropriate.2

1. Lindberg, S.E.; Owens, J. PaMSWaD (Pathways of Mercury in Solid Waste Disposal); Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation (LMER). 1999. 6.
2. Maine Fluorescent Lamp Study, DRAFT 1.0, November 15, 2001.

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

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