Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Happens When the Bulb Breaks?

When a fluorescent lamp breaks, it emits mercury vapor, which can cause severe health and safety risks. Mercury vapor, which can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled, can cause neurological damage to adults, children and fetuses. (1) It is considered a persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemical, since it doesn't degrade in the environment. (2) When mercury vapor gets into water, it is converted to methyl mercury and can enter the food chain through fish. Methyl mercury causes damage to the central nervous system and it is also thought to be a possible human carcinogen. (3)

To avoid both health and environmental risks associated with mercury vapor emissions from broken fluorescent lamps, they should be packaged, stored and transported to recycling facilities in a configuration that is specifically designed to contain mercury vapor—and proven to be effective.

1. Mercury Fact Sheet; Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 1999; available at (accessed October 1, 2007).
2. Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxic (PBT) Chemicals; Final Rule. Fed Regist. 1999, 64, 58666-58753.
3. Mercury Compounds Hazard Summary, 2000. Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics web site; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; available at (accessed November 20, 2007).

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

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