How to dispose of fluorescent tubes safely

Updated April 17, 2017

Fluorescent tubes contain small amounts of mercury which are released as poisonous vapours if the tubes are broken. Mercury can also be absorbed through the skin by handling broken fluorescent tubes. For these reasons, care must be taken to dispose of fluorescent tubes safely.

Check to see if there are fluorescent tube recycling programs in your area by searching online or calling local city or county offices. Recycling pickup and disposal may occur only a few times a year in your area, so you may have to store your used fluorescent tubes temporarily.

Know the regulations for safe disposal of fluorescent tubes in your area. Some states or local regulatory agencies require you to take fluorescent tubes to a recycle or hazardous waste disposal site. Some areas offer free pickup.

Store used fluorescent tubes in the box they came in or another place they won't break. Follow packing and storing guidelines of your local recycling or environmental regulatory agency. You may need to seal the storage container with plastic or tape.

Dispose of fluorescent tubes in sealed plastic bags placed in your trash bin if no other options exist in your state or area. Do this only if your waste agency does not incinerate its garbage. If it does, search for other disposal options outside of your area.

Take care not to break fluorescent tubes while disposing or storing. If they break, remove all humans and animals from the area at once and take care to not inhale vapours. Cleanup guidelines can be found online and by calling your local city or county agencies.

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About the Author

Lisa Weinstein is an award-winning, California-based journalist specializing in education. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications. She holds a California English teaching credential and uses her classroom experience to add depth to her writing.