Flourescent light bulbs

Discussion in 'General Science' started by Duane P Wetick, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. Duane P Wetick

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Apr 23, 2009
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    What are you supposed to do with flourescent light bulbs when they stop working? It says: CONTAINS MERCURY-DISPOSE ACCORDING TO LOCAL, STATE OR FEDERAL LAWS. I cannot find a disposal site anywhere and I'm uncertain about how much mercury is contained and is it a health risk? Why is a hazardous substance like mercury used in their manufacture in the first place?

    Cheers, DPW [ Everything has limitations...and I hate limitations.]
     
  2. Alec_t

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 17, 2013
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    Your Local Authority will be able to advise.
    We've got disposal sites in the UK; but I guess that's a bit far for you to travel with your bulbs :D.
     
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  3. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    I just toss them in the trash after bagging them, but that is probably illegal. The local city dump does take special trash, like insecticide and herbicides, I suspect it falls into a similar category.
     
  4. elec_mech

    Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2008
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    You are in the U.S., correct? You can take them to Home Depot or Lowes. Both have a little stand near returns/customer service desk for fluorescent bulbs and rechargeable batteries.

    You can look up the website for your local landfill - it will probably have a link somewhere telling you where you can recycle your bulbs, but I've found it much easier to drop off at the big box stores.

    For lack of better knowledge, mercury is necessary for the production of fluorescent bulbs. While they certainly use less power for the same amount of light, they should be recycled since mercury is a heavy metal you don't want in the environment lest it gets into the ground and water supply. The recycling part seems to be left out of all the advertisements for fluorescent bulbs. :rolleyes:
     
  5. tcmtech

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 4, 2013
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    But 'the environment' is where mercury comes from and in many places in considerable natural formations and resulting quantities. :confused:
     
  6. elec_mech

    Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2008
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    If you agree mercury is poisonous to people, then it would make sense to keep it out of the landfill. If not, I have nothing further to offer.

    You can read more here and here.
     
  7. tcmtech

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 4, 2013
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    I am not saying it as you are implying it.

    Mercury largely comes from Cinnabar and Calomel rock formations (primarily HgS, AKA Mercury Sulphide) which in their highest molecular concentrations can be up around 86% Mercury and 14% Sulfur by mass and is commonly soft enough to be scratched and physically broken down by hand plus is moderately soluble in water.


    Given that the average CFL has between 5 and 10 milligrams of mercury one ton of garbage with 2 CFL's would give roughly a 11 - 22 PPM ratio. Which in comparison for human food consumption 1 PPM is considered safe for a normal healthy average person.

    So unless you are eating at least 100 pounds of raw garbage or drinking more than 12 gallons of raw landfill water per day the odds are the CFLs going into the landfills are not going to hurt you. :rolleyes:

    Now however if you live in a location where cinnabar or calomel mineral deposits are and it rains and you ever come in contact with surface water you're way way past the recommended safe levels of mercury exposure limits.

    BTW both mineral types plus their subtypes can be found in all populated land masses throughout the world due to natural geological erosion and deposition actions. :eek:

    My point is there are loads of rock formations on the surface of this planet that have moderate to high levels of mercury in them and they are subjected to natural erosion and chemical reactions plus active water transport in quantities far beyond those associated with any landfill. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Duane P Wetick

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Apr 23, 2009
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    Lowes does have a recycling center for fluorescent bulbs and batteries also. From what I have been reading, the real mercury hazard comes from the liberation of mercury vapors by burning; read coal. Afterwards, it ends up in our soil and waters by precipitation; rain mainly.

    Cheers, DPW [Everything has limitations...and I hate limitations.]
     
  9. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
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    When I was a kid, it used to be a big thing; to see who could collect the most Mercury.

    Put it in a little glass bottle and take it to school, show off to the rest of your buddies. Lot of fun to drop a small drop on a hard tile floor, and watch it separate into a godzillion little balls. Then, take a stiff card and put it all back together.

    Not dead.....yet!:cool:
     
  10. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
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    Put enough fear into the masses, it always makes a few people very, very, rich.
     
  11. Alec_t

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 17, 2013
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    Ah yes, school days. We used to squeeze the mercury through a cotton handkerchief and spray it across the lab bench. As far as I know, I'm not dead yet either :D
     
  12. tcmtech

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 4, 2013
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    I have a roughly one pound flask of mercury some place at home I too collected from things like mercury light switches, old thermostats, and mercury displacement relays as a kid. :D

    I also have a pair of huge Thylatron vacuum tubes in my shop that the specs I can find on them say they have around 3 - 5 pounds of it in each. :eek:
     
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  13. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    It is sloppy, fallacious thinking.

    Mercury, DDT, PCBs, and many other chemicals accumulate in the food chain. Even only a few ppm cause very high contaminations in fish and animals.

    Also mercury ore is not really common there are not deposits everywhere. It is like thinking: There are deposits everywhere, no one is dying from it at my place, OK it is safe (even if there are no actual deposits at your place).

    Mercury was used to extract gold and the practice is now illegal.
     
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  14. tcmtech

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 4, 2013
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    Meh.. I occasionally burn tires in my boiler for heating my house in the winter. Like I care. :rolleyes:

    At the end of my life I will be dead anyways just the same as everyone else. At least when I get there I will have lived rather than spent my life afraid and what if'ing myself to tears and worse over fear and concern of everything. :D
     
  15. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Having raised kids I do tend to think beyond my mortality. Somehow though, I suspect that isn't the core difference. I drop a piece of paper on the ground, I pick it up. Why leave trash I made for other people to deal with?
     
  16. MikeLalonde

    New Member

    Dec 8, 2013
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    If your city has a hazardous waste depot you could try there. We take solvents, paints, old medicines, and fluorescent bulbs to a recycling depot that takes these free of charge. Not all cities have them but really, it beats throwing them in a landfill.

    Michael Lalonde - Sudbury, Ontario
     
  17. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    The thing that chaps be about the CFLs is that we have largely been sold a bill of goods. We are told time and time again how they last seven to ten times longer then incandescent bulbs. Certainly not in my experience. When we rented the house in Golden my roommate replaced many of the bulbs with brand new CFLs -- the rest just stayed with whatever incandescents where already there, no matter how old they might be. In the eleven months we have been here, we have had to replace many of the CFLs yet have not had to replace a single incandescent. I've noticed the same thing at home in that, in the four years we've lived there we have replaced many of the CFLs, some of them more than once, and have only replaced two or three incandescents. All of the CFLs are ones we put in ourselves. All of the incandescents were whatever was there when we bought it and the seller's told us that the lights in the vaulted ceiling were the original bulbs from when the house was built in 1994. Yet they are all still working just fine. It will be a royal pain to replace them so, when the time comes, there is no way in hell I am going to put a CFL in there, even if that means going down to the street corner in the crime-infested part of town to buy contraband bulbs from the drug/gun/bulb dealers.
     
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  18. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    I totally agree with that! I'm lucky to get 6 months life from CFLs, many lasting just a few weeks.

    Autopsies show HV electros with their guts hanging out and plenty of dead HV FETs. The tube part itself would likely last a long time, which is a bit of a joke.

    My mains voltage is often around 254-256v AC, and the design engineers probably use the cheapest lowest spec parts they can, maybe even from a "220v" spec (as a lot of Asia is 220v).

    Anyway they are a totally stupid idea, a tiny little FET working its butt off near it's max spec all night long switching high voltages, JUST to make some light. What a con.
     
  19. MikeML

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 2, 2009
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    And then there is what those damn CFLs, Electronic Ballasts, and Electronic Transformers do to the radio spectrum. I shoot the damn things with my .22
     
  20. Art

    Distinguished Member

    Sep 10, 2007
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfzQzGNYaiU

    I actually know someone with a pre 1920's squirrel cage light bulb that still works.
    I'm not the conspiracy theorist, but point me to any advertising of the era that states
    anything other than 1000 hours lifespan (1925 - 1953).
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
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