Shining a Light on Hidden Toxins

Fluorescent lamps
Fluorescent lights contain mercury, one of the most toxic substances on earth.
Old ballasts (the electrical component of fluorescent light fixtures) can contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), highly toxic synthetic chemicals (banned in 1978).

Don’t worry. You will not be exposed to mercury or PCBs when using fluorescent lights.

But please keep this in mind when changing out light fixtures: If you improperly dispose of fluorescent lights or ballasts and they break apart, their toxins can leach into ground water or surface waters, causing serious harm to the environment.

The best way to safely dispose of fluorescent lights and ballasts is to bring them to our Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility

• For fluorescent lights, put them in their original packaging, if possible. Otherwise, wrap them in newspaper to keep them from breaking. Secure them in your trunk or truck bed to avoid broken glass or mercury exposure in case of an accident. Please do not tape tubes together, as they will need to be loose to be recycled.

• Ballasts that do not contain PCBs are marked “No PCBs” on their labels. If a ballast is not so marked, assume it contains PCBs and bring it to the facility, but remove the ballast from the light fixture first. If the ballast is leaking, put it in a sealable plastic bag, and place all cleanup materials (rags, wipes, etc.) into the bag with it.

Fluorescents Are Still a Good Choice; LEDs are Better

Fluorescent lights are still a good choice because they use less energy than incandescent lamps and last up to ten times longer. Reducing energy use cuts down on power plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants.

Better yet, use LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights. LED lights are even more energy efficient, do not contain mercury or other hazardous materials, and can be put in the trash.

Please call 1-800-646-1431 for more information.

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