OSHA issues two educational resources on protecting workers from mercury exposure in fluorescent bulbs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued two new educational resources to help protect workers from mercury exposure while crushing and recycling fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, but the shift to energy-saving fluorescents, which contain mercury, calls for more attention to workers who handle, dispose of, and recycle used fluorescent bulbs.

The OSHA fact sheet explains how workers may be exposed, what kinds of engineering controls and personal protective equipment they need, and how to use these controls and equipment properly. In addition, a new OSHA Quick Card alerts employers and workers to the hazards of mercury and provides information on how to properly clean up accidentally broken fluorescent bulbs to minimize workers’ exposures to mercury.

Fluorescent bulbs can release mercury and may expose workers when they are broken accidentally or crushed as part of the routine disposal or recycling process. Depending on the duration and level of exposure, mercury can cause nervous system disorders such as tremors, kidney problems, and damage to unborn children.

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One Response to OSHA issues two educational resources on protecting workers from mercury exposure in fluorescent bulbs

  1. Brad Buscher says:

    Mercury vapor can be detrimental to consumers’ and handlers’ health—from those involved with handling new fluorescent bulbs to people involved with storing, packaging and shipping used and broken lamps. Vapor released from shattered lamps can be contained in specifically designed mercury storage packages, but concentrations inside this packaging can remain dangerously high, creating a risk if the package is opened or perforated. The vapors can be captured within mercury-safe packages with the inclusion of a new, patent-pending adsorbent technology that effectively reduces vapor levels over periods of time. A Study by NUCON International, Inc., a world-wide leader in providing gas, vapor and liquid phase adsorption solutions, found the adsorbent showed an immediate reduction of mercury vapors by nearly 60 percent after 15 minutes. After 12 hours, the reduction can reach more than 95 percent. This technology, recently announced at the Air & Waste Management Association’s Conference & Exhibition, provides consumers and transporters who come into contact with used CFLs a safe way to handle them. With the vapor contained and captured in safe packaging, consumers’ and handlers’ risks of vapor leaks or seepage are greatly reduced. Also, a small consumer-size recycling bag, available soon, will feature this technology and allow people to safely store three to four used lamps at home before taking them to a retailer or municipality that accepts CFLs for recycling.
    View a short animated depiction of the adsorption process at http://www.vaporlokproducts.com/capturedemo.

    Download a detailed White Paper on this technology at http://www.vaporlokproducts.com/capturewhitepaper.pdf.

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