Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Future Mercury Waste Regulations: The First Step to a Brighter Future

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promotes recycling of fluorescent lamps by allowing common carrier shipment to recycling facilities. The federal Universal Waste Rule requires packaging to be compatible with the contents of lamps, structurally sound and adequate to prevent breakage—but this rule does not specifically address mercury vapor release. In 2005, a provision was added that requires packaging for mercury-containing products to be "reasonably designed to prevent the escape of mercury into the environment by volatilization or any other means." However, fluorescent lamps were excluded from this rule.(1)

However, some states are beginning to address the dangers of unsafe packaging and transportation of used fluorescent lamps and mercury containing devices. On March 19, 2010, Washington signed Senate Bill 5543, requiring that lights and other mercury-containing devices are packaged and shipped in material that will minimize the release of mercury into the environment. The law also states that they should include mercury vapor barrier packaging if transported by the United States postal service or a common carrie. This new legislation is set to be the precursor of future state and federal legislation as awareness of mercury vapor dangers increases. Find out more about these types of waste regulations and programs at these United States Environmental Protection Agency Sites.

1. Standards for Universal Waste Management: Applicability—Lamps. CFR, Part 273.5, Title 40, 2007.

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

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