Mercury and Light Bulbs


All fluorescent light bulbs contain some mercury. Some other lights also contain mercury:

  • high intensity discharge lamps (mercury vapor, metal halide, sodium)
  • fluorescent backlights in flat panel and liquid crystal displays commonly used as monitors, TVs and instrument displays. 

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Broken bulbs

When these light bulbs break, some mercury vapor is released to the air. Usually the amount released from one broken bulb is not a health concern.

Cleaning Up Broken CFLs
Minnesota Department of Health

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Recycling bulbs

All mercury-containing lamps should be recycled. In Minnesota, it is illegal to dispose of mercury-containing light bulbs, or other mercury-containing products, in the trash.

Fluorescent light bulbs: Use them, recycle them
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Drum-Top Bulb Crushers Health Consultation: Drum-top bulb crusher demonstration at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (December 2003) (PDF: 74KB/28 pages)
A Health Consultation from the Minnesota Department of Health

Letter to Schools: Drum-top bulb crushers and recycling fluorescent bulbs: Drum-top fluorescent bulb crushers: Advice to School s(November 2007) (PDF: 41KB/2 pages)
Minnesota Department of Health

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Other information

Frequently Asked Questions Information on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury (August 2007) (PDF: 136KB/6 pages)
from Energy Star, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S Department of Energy program

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Updated Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 11:35AM