Fluorescent lamps

lamps (9K, Photo Credit: Ari Kasapyan)

Introduction

Most overhead lighting at UW locations is now done by low mercury fluorescent light tubes (FLTs).

UW Seattle Facilities Services and Housing & Food Services also partnered with Seattle City Light to replace all task lighting with low mercury compact fluorescent lights (CFLs.) Fluorescent lights use 20 to 30% of the electricity of incandescent lamps, and they last much longer. Also, CFLs can be recycled (incandescent lamps are not recyclable.)

Fluorescent lamps have many advantages, but they contain a small amount of mercury. The mercury helps them be more efficient. Handle lamps carefully and never place any lamp, whole or broken, in the trash.


Recycling used lamps

If a fluorescent light tube burns out, do not change it yourself. At UW Seattle, request a lamp change from Facilities Services. At other locations, contact your local Facilities Services or maintenance departments. They will replace the bulb and recycle it for you.

If you have a burnt out CFL at UW Seattle, call Facilities Services at 5.8815 to request a pickup. They will recycle it for you. At other locations, contact your local Facilities Services or maintenance departments.


Cleaning up broken lamps

Avoid any dust created by broken lamps. Allow any vapor to dissipate. Open windows if possible. Leave the area for five minutes before returning to clean up the broken lamp. Keep other people away from the area until the cleanup is complete. Do not vacuum the area.
Wearing thick gloves, pick up and place all of the broken glass in a sturdy container with a secure screw top lid or a double plastic bag in a cardboard box. You can also use stiff pieces of paper or the stick side of tape to do so. Wipe the area with damp paper towels.

Label the container of debris as "hazardous waste - broken fluorescent lamp" or fill out a UW hazardous waste sticker. Fill out the Online Chemical Waste Collection request or Chemical Waste Collection Request and send to Environmental Programs. Hazardous waste laws require that all broken fluorescent lamps be disposed of as hazardous waste in order to give people an incentive to recycle intact bulbs instead of throwing them in the garbage. The glass, metal and mercury in fluorescent lamps are all recycled. When you are done, wash your hands and face. If a rug, shoes, clothing or other porous articles were contaminated, call EH&S at 206.543.1467 for advice.