New Pouch Prevents CFL Mercury Shipping Spills

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Compact Fluorescent Bulb recycling, CFL, mercury, clean-up

The VaporLok recycling bag adsorbs harmful mercury vapor from broken CFLs. Photo: VaporLok

Compact florescent light bulbs use 75 percent less energythan traditional incandescent bulbs and last about six times longer, but with those impressive stats come some health concerns.

CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, which can be harmful if the bulb is broken at home or at the dump, as the chemical element is associated with various neurological, kidney and brain diseases. One Minnesota company thinks its found a way to get the best of both worlds – the energy and cost-saving benefits of CFLs without the harmful chemical contact associated with them.

The new VaporLok recycling bag is specifically designed to keep the chemicals from burnt-out CFLs from making their way into the environment when bulbs are shipped in the recycling process.

The pouch adsorbs the mercury vapor, allowing recyclers and other post-consumer handlers to safely open the pouch with broken CFLs inside and reducing mercury levels to below the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit for humans.

Need-to-Know: How to Clean Up a Broken CFL

“The container can solve recycling concerns, as there are currently no collection programs or logistics in place to efficiently recycle millions of used CFLs, and most end up in landfills where their mercury content can leach into lakes, rivers and groundwater,” the company says in a press release.

The bags sell on the company’s website for $6.99 for three pouches, which can then be used and dropped off at recycling sites that accept CFL bulbs.

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