Mercury Product Management: Why it Matters
When products containing mercury, including fluorescent lamps and older models of thermostats are broken or thrown in the regular trash, mercury pollutes our air, contaminates our waterways, and accumulates in the fish we eat. It is therefore important to carefully handle and safely dispose of all mercury products.
The Massachusetts Mercury Management Act prohibits all mercury-containing items that contain mercury from being thrown in the trash. As of May 2008, all mercury-containing products must be recycled or managed as hazardous waste.
Educate Workers, Property Managers, and Contractors to Promote Safe and Legal Fluorescent Lamp Management
The following educational resources can help you spread the word about the dangers of fluorescent lamp mismanagement, as well as how to properly and legally manage these products.
Mercury Fact Sheet: Teach workers how to avoid mercury exposure by safely managing lamps. This fact sheet also provides a list of MA-based mercury recycling companies.
Employee Safety Signage (English and Spanish versions): This bold flyer relays the dangers of mercury exposure and the quick steps workers can take to safely handle fluorescent lamps.
Managing Fluorescent Lamps Legally and Safely (PowerPoint Slides): Add this presentation to your website to remind workers why safe mercury management matters (e.g., reduce health, safety, and environmental risks, meet state legal requirements).
Municipalities: Adopt a local policy and bylaw to strengthen the Massachusetts Mercury Management Law
Massachusetts law bans mercury-containing lamps from landfills and incinerators. Unfortunately, the law does not lay out enforcement standards. Become a leading municipality: pass a local policy that requires those applying for a renovation/demolition permit to conduct an inventory of all potentially hazardous elements in their buildings.
You can also pass a complementary Hazardous Materials Bylaw that requires companies to annually register hazardous materials and waste, and allows the Board of Health to conduct annual inspections to review lamp management practices.
These resources can help you craft your own local policy and bylaw:
Ensure Your Building is in Compliance
- Contract with an authorized recycler to manage spent fluorescent lamps (see list below)
- When replacing thermostats, bring spent devices to a designated recycling location. Find a collection site at http://www.thermostat-recycle.org/zipsearch/
Prevent unnecessary exposure:
- as bulbs are removed, store them in a labeled and dated box or cushioned drum to prevent breakage
- if a bulb breaks in your building, open a window to disperse mercury vapor and scoop up the broken shards—do not vacuum!
- do not store mercury-containing products for more than one year
Fluorescent Lamp Recyclers Serving Massachusetts Commercial Properties