Fluorescent Light Bulb Disposal
Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury. Discarding used bulbs in the trash allows the mercury to enter the environment.
Businesses that generate hazardous wastes (large and small quantity generators and conditionally exempt generators) are required to properly manage the disposal of fluorescent light bulbs according to the Colorado Hazardous Waste Regulations. Under these regulations, proper disposal is through a recycler. For a copy of the regulations concerning fluorescent light bulbs, contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.For a current list of local recyclers, refer to "Ecocyle's Guide to Hard-to-Recycle Materials" (http://www.ecocycle.org).
There are vendors that provide the recycling service upon purchase of new bulbs. Contact your light bulb vendor for more information.
There are low mercury fluorescent light bulbs available. These may not fall under the current disposal requirements. Contact manufacturers for more information. These bulbs would contain an amount of mercury that is below the hazardous waste determination level. Because there is still mercury in them, it is best to recycle.
By the way, halogen bulbs do not contain mercury
501 East 1st Avenue
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone (303) 651-8667
Ballasts are the small metal box-shaped devices that hold the fluorescent light bulbs. Ballasts are not the bulbs. They may be recycled for metal.
Some older style ballasts contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and are regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Newer ballasts will be labeled "No PCBs". If the ballast is not labeled, assume it contains PCBs. Contact the Toxic Substance Control Act assistance information hotline at (303) 312-6312 for information on proper disposal.
Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the reportable quantity of PCB is once pound (about 10 ballasts) in a 24 hour period. Failure to report is a violation of CERCLA Section 103. Reporting does not absolve businesses from liability under CERCLA.
If the ballast is punctured, the PCB may leak. It will appear as a black oily substance. Leaking ballasts cannot be discarded in the trash. They (and all material to come into contact with the PCBs) must be incinerated. Contact the Toxic Substance Control Act assistance information hotline at (303) 312-6312 for information on proper disposal.
Some ballasts contain di (2-ethylhexyl) phathatlate (DEHP). This chemical is listed as a hazardous waste under the Resource Recovery Act. But once used in ballasts, it is no longer considered hazardous waste. Disposal need only be reported to the National Response Center (1-800-424-8802) if over 100 pounds of DEHP (about 1600 ballasts) is disposed in a 24 hour period.
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This page was updated
January 4, 2012
City of Longmont Public Works & Natural Resources
Pollution Prevention Program