DEQ Home > Pollution Prevention > What You Should Know About Mercury and CFLs
Pollution Prevention (P2):
What You Should Know About Mercury and CFLs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are highly efficient. They use 75 percent less energy and on average last 7 to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. By requiring less energy, these bulbs reduce the amount of pollution from energy production, which includes the emission of mercury from coal combustion.
Mercury-added bulbs manufactured after November 30, 2003 are labeled to read "Contains Mercury" or "Hg" within a circle on the lamp to signify that they must be handled with caution.
The following types of bulbs contain mercury:
- Fluorescent, compact fluorescent, black lights.
- Ultraviolet bulbs.
- Neon bulbs.
- High intensity discharge bulbs (HID). Most commonly used in security, outdoor and warehouse lighting.
The following are HID bulbs:
- Mercury Vapor
- Metal Halide
- High Pressure Sodium
- Vehicle Headlamps
There are no non-mercury fluorescent or HID bulbs available at this time. Green tip or low-mercury fluorescent lighting contains less mercury, but should be disposed of the same way mercury-added bulbs are.
- Store bulbs in an area and in a way that will prevent them from breaking, such as in boxes the bulbs came in or in boxes supplied by a bulb recycler.
- Do not break or crush bulbs because mercury may be released. If a bulb is accidentally broken, follow the appropriate breakage clean-up procedure.
Any mercury-containing bulb should not be discarded in the trash. Bulbs containing mercury should be handled as hazardous ("universal") waste, stored carefully prior to disposal to avoid breakage, and be properly disposed of.
Used compact fluorescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes should be recycled instead of tossed into the trash because they contain small amounts of mercury, which can seep into the earth at a landfill and pollute the groundwater. Many health departments have special collection points within their communities that accept used CFL bulbs.
Use this map to contact your local health department.
For Additional CFL Disposal Locations
- Contact the hazardous waste handling facility in your area.
- LampRecycle.org , developed by the Lamp Section of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, along with lamp recyclers, provides lamp recycling contacts and other useful information.
- Permanent Disposal Sites
If your local waste management agency offers no other disposal options except your household garbage, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in the trash. If your waste agency incinerates its garbage, you should search a wider geographic area for proper disposal options. Never send a CFL or other mercury-containing product to an incinerator.
Many retailers are currently exploring take-back programs and it is our hope that by the time your CFL needs to be replaced, a retailer program will be in place. ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs have a two-year warranty. If the bulb fails within the warranty period, return it to your retailer.
For more information about mercury and ways you can minimize exposure risks please click on the links below:
- EPA: Mercury: Spills, Disposal, and Site Cleanup
- Information on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs and Mercury
- Mercury Information for the State of Utah
Contact Paul Harding (801-536-4108) for further information on the content of this page.