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Legislation Addresses Mercury Vapor Risks of Unsafe Fluorescent Lamp Packaging

Written by Heidi Schwartz. Posted in Safety

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Published on May 20, 2010 with No Comments

When Governor Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5543 on March 19, Washington became the first state to address the dangers of unsafe packaging and transportation of used fluorescent lamps and mercury containing devices. This new legislation is set to be the precursor of future state and federal legislation as awareness of mercury vapor dangers increases.

Due to deficiencies of most current packaging configurations utilized for shipping used fluorescent lamps, the new law requires that lights and other mercury containing devices are packaged and shipped in material that will minimize the release of mercury into the environment. The law also states that packages should include mercury vapor barrier materials if lamps are transported by the United States postal service or a common carrier or collected via curbside programs and mail-back businesses.

Recent research studying the packaging employed to transport used fluorescent lamps has indicated the need for much stricter legislation to prevent the release of mercury vapor from used lamps. This research, published in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, revealed the need for proven vapor containing packaging. The results indicated that four out of five commonly used packages failed to minimize levels below acceptable occupational exposure limits, as defined by state and federal regulations and guidelines. For an abstract of the study and pdf download, click this link.

About Heidi Schwartz

Heidi Schwartz

Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager (TFM) magazine (formerly Business Interiors) where she was subsequently promoted to editor/co-publisher of the monthly trade magazine for facility management professionals. In September 2012, she took over the newly created position of internet director for TFM's parent company, Group C Media, where she is charged with developing content and creating online strategies for TFM and its sister publication, Business Facilities. Schwartz can be reached at

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