Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Consequences of Mercury Vapor Pollution and Exposure

Despite increasing awareness of the safety and environmental hazards of mercury vapor emitted from used fluorescent lamps, most are still not recycled. In fact, the EPA estimates the recycling rate of fluorescent lamps at only 20 to 25 percent, with the rest ending up in dumpsters and, eventually, in landfills—where they may continue to emit hazardous mercury vapor into the environment.

Mercury does not break down over time. It can get into drinking water, lakes, rivers and streams, posing a critical threat to human health, as well as the environment. Mercury is a known neurotoxin and it can bioaccumulate as it goes up the food chain. Recent studies have linked mercury exposure to increased risk of heart attack in men, mental retardation and neurological disorders in children, and to dangerous levels of mercury in the blood of women of childbearing age.

Though fluorescent lamps are a valuable resource for large facilities and homes, they must be disposed of properly to provide a truly environmentally conscious solution. Some states are taking steps to regulate mercury-containing wastes, but businesses and consumers alike can act now to protect the environment from these hazards. Taking the initiative to ensure that all used lamps are properly stored, transported and recycled can protect against potential hazards while taking advantage of the benefits fluorescent lamps provide.

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

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