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Mercury from broken Sylvania lightbulbs costs $70,000 to clean-up

Mercury from broken Sylvania lightbulbs costs $70,000 to clean-up

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attributes the need for $70,000 in clean-up costs at a library in East Central Indiana to the breakage of one Sylvania 8-foot fluorescent light bulb and subsequent vaccuming of the mercury. "What's been going on ever since is, [the vacuum cleaner] has been tossing little beads of mercury from over here to over there, and then from over there to over here," said Bill Simes, on-scene coordinator for EPA, who was quoted in an article appearing last Friday in the East-Central Indiana Star Press.

"The take home message is don't attempt to use a vaccuum cleaner to clean up mercury from a fluorescent bulb or other mercury-containing device that breaks in your home, library, school or business," said Michael Bender, Director of the Mercury Policy Project. "Also, don't believe it if anyone tries to convince you that mercury releases from fluorescent light bulbs--or any other mercury product--is not a problem. There are cases in the literature of young children become poisoned in their homes solely due to the mercury from fluorescent bulb or thermometer breakage."

Lamp makers are already required by law to label lamps containing mercury with the chemical symbol "Hg," but this is clearly not enough, notes Bender.

"Lamp makers and other mercury product pushers should be required to provide consumer information at point-of-purchase and in product packaging regarding toxic risks and clean up of mercury releases from their products," said Bender.

In January, fluorescent lamp makers, required by Vermont law to label all lamps sold in-state containing mercury, announced a nationwide program to label fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps as well as their packaging. After losing a 5-year court battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, lamp makers say they will now label an estimated 600 million lamps-and their packaging-sold nationally.

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Author Notes:

Mark Harris contributes and publishes news editorial to  Find online lightbulbs like Halogen, Projector, Tanning Bed, Fluorescent, Automotive and much more.

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