Mercury in Light Bulbs: Minnesota Dept. of Health

Mercury and Light Bulbs

On this page:
Introduction
Broken bulbs
Recycling bulbs
Other information

Introduction

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. 
  • compact fluorescent bulbs

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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.

For more information, see the MDH Webpage CFLs: General Information and Cleanup.

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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.

For more information, visit the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's webpage Local household hazardous waste collection programs.

For more information on how to recycle bulbs, see the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency webpage Fluorescent light bulbs: Use them, recycle them.

Drum-Top Bulb Crushers Health Consultation: Drum-top bulb crusher demonstration at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, December 2003, Health Consultation (PDF)

Letter to Schools: Drum-top bulb crushers and recycling fluorescent bulbs: Drum-top fluorescent bulb crushers: Advice to Schools, November 2007 (PDF)

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Other information

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

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Updated Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 06:07PM