Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Minimize Safety, Health and Environmental Risks of Used Fluorescent Lamps: Storage

One broken 48-inch fluorescent lamp in a small room or vehicle can release enough mercury vapor to exceed the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL). This means that mercury vapor concentrations could exceed occupational exposure levels when working with or near broken bulbs, especially when multiple bulbs are stored or shipped in bulk to recycling facilities.

Often, maintenance workers at small to large facilities store used lamps for a period of time until numerous lamps are collected for transportation to recycling facilities. Stored lamps may be bumped around and broken, so maintenance workers should package used lamps in a configuration proven to contain mercury vapor emissions. A recent study from the University of Minnesota indicates that three layers of packaging are necessary to provide sufficient containment of mercury vapor. An outer cardboard layer provides structure to the configuration and protects contents from outside elements. A bag positioned between two cardboard layers should feature a suitable material and tight seal—such as a unique zip closure foil-plastic laminate bag—to contain the mercury vapor. Finally, an inner layer of cardboard prevents broken glass from piercing the bag.

Read our previous post on how to handle used fluorescent lamps, and find out next week how to safely transport them.

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

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