Compact Fluorescent Lights
Fluorescent lights are far more energy efficient than their incandescent cousins. However, most fluorescent tubes and bulbs contain mercury and should be disposed of properly. Energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can help reduce air pollution, but users need to know how to deal with them at their end of life.
If a fluorescent bulb package says "Mercury" or "Hg" (the abbreviation for "hydrargyrum," which is the Latin name for mercury), the bulbs contain mercury. Mercury is a "heavy metal" that can be hazardous to human health and the environment. Mercury can easily evaporate and travel long distances in the atmosphere, falling to the soil and into the water during precipitation. When mercury-containing products, such as fluorescent lamps, are placed in the household trash, the bulbs can easily get broken, releasing mercury into the environment. One broken fluorescent bulb can contaminate 7,000 gallons of water with mercury.
Fluorescent bulbs should not be placed in residential garbage cans or curbside recycling bins. The Spokane Regional Solid Waste System recommends that residents accumulate all burned out fluorescent bulbs and other household items containing mercury and deliver them to the Household Hazardous Waste section at System Transfer Stations and the Waste to Energy Facility. Disposal is free. For directions and hours of operation, call the Recycling Hotline at 625-6800. For more information, contact the Department of Ecology website at www.ecy.wa.gov/mercury/.
Du-Mor Recycling (509-489-6482) and Earthworks Recycling (509-534-1638) centers also accept fluorescent bulbs for disposal. There is a charge for this service.
For businesses needing information on safe disposal options for fluorescent lights and other items containing mercury, contact the Recycling Hotline at 625-6800.