Where to Dispose of Fluorescent Tubes

If you need to get rid of fluorescent tubes, you might be wondering the best way to go about it. If these wastes are not properly disposed of, they can cause environmental damage. Although they cost more upfront, these bulbs are much more energy-efficient and tend to last 15,000 up to 20,000 hours. Fluorescent tubes have become increasingly popular in recent years and are used by many homeowners and businesses alike.

Fluorescent lights may seem harmless, but they contain mercury. When mercury is spilled, it forms vapors that are invisible and odorless- making them difficult to detect. However, even small amounts of mercury can cause serious health problems. This blog post will discuss how to safely and responsibly dispose of fluorescent tubes.

Are Fluorescent Tubes Harmful?

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Fluorescent tubes can cause serious harm to the environment, wildlife, and even humans. Any variety of fluorescent lighting contains mercury, a highly toxic metal. If incorrectly disposed of, mercury can dissipate into the atmosphere, contaminating water supplies and wildlife.

Once this has happened, humans are susceptible to mercury poisoning, which is problematic to all but extremely dangerous for pregnant women and the development of their babies. This contamination mostly occurs when mercury is incinerated, a common way of dealing with waste in landfills.

Methods to Correctly Dispose of Fluorescent Tubes

1. Recycling

It is essential to avoid placing your fluorescent tubes or lamps in your general waste or recycling bin. To recycle them safely, you will need to find a specialized recycling service which you can sometimes find in hardware stores.

However, it is important to remember that most of these services will not accept broken or damaged tubes. Once you have found a recycling center that can take your fluorescent tubes, ensure to package them up securely so they do not break during transport.

2. Local Household Waste

If you cannot find a recycling center that takes fluorescent tubes, you can dispose of them through your local household waste collection service. You should first check with your local authority to see if there are any specific requirements for how to dispose of this type of waste. Sometimes, you may be asked to take your fluorescent tubes to a designated waste site.

Florescent tubes are a popular lighting source owing to their efficiency and simplicity of installation. Still, many people do not know how or why to dispose of fluorescent lights properly, and these harmful products end up in landfills and damage our environment.

Remember, it is essential to take the proper precautions when disposing of this type of waste since it can harm the environment and human health.

Safely Dispose of a Broken Fluorescent Tube Light

If your fluorescent lighting is damaged, take the following measures to protect people and pets in your home:

  • Have everyone leave the room
  • Turn off any central heating or air conditioning units
  • Open all doors and windows to ventilate the room 

Use stiff paper, cardboard, or a disposable wet wipe to transfer the fragments into an airtight container. You should not try to vacuum up the smaller pieces if you cannot pick them up with sticky tape. The suction could be turned on to prevent the spread of mercury powders or vapors. The best thing to do is to contact a safe disposal service that will know exactly how to deal with it.

Mercury and Toxicity In Fluorescent Tubes

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), fluorescent bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury, approximately four milligrams per glass tube. When the glass tubes shatter and are released into the environment, this amount of mercury is hazardous because it is a known neurotoxin.

Mercury exposure can harm human health, whether through the respiratory or digestive systems. Once mercury enters the bloodstream, it crosses the blood-brain barrier and accumulates in brain tissue. There, it can cause various neurological disorders like cerebral palsy or impair cognitive function in unborn children.

Hundreds of Iraqis died in 1971 from mercury poisoning caused by eating contaminated grain that had been treated with a deadly methylmercury fungicide. Other symptoms included vision loss and numbness of the skin. Additionally, it may cause congenital diseases in unborn babies.

The Chisso Corporation’s mercury-containing wastewater polluted Minamata bay in Japan from 1932 to 1968. When consumed by the local populace, the mercury collected in shellfish and fish resulted in mercury poisoning. There was an outbreak of a disease called Minamata Disease.

The Bottom Line

Although LED lighting is becoming more popular for its cost and energy efficiency, many homes, offices, and businesses still use fluorescent tubes. When these need to be disposed of, follow the local laws and regulations regarding recycling or safe disposal. Be careful when handling them so they don’t break; if one does manage to break, take proper clean-up measures immediately.

For up-to-date instructions on procedures, rules, and laws, contact the nearest authorized fluorescent tube recycling plant or your local government agency, as these can change from time to time. Be sure you don’t risk your own and the environment’s health using fluorescent light bulbs since they contain toxic mercury.


Is it safe to break fluorescent bulbs?

Although CFLs contain mercury, only a tiny amount is emitted into the air if these bulbs break. If you are cautious and clean up broken bulbs immediately, there is little to no risk of mercury exposure.

Can you touch fluorescent bulbs?

The salts and oils from your skin will damage the bulb and concentrate the heat if you touch it with your fingertips. Lights might be damaged or even shatter as a result of this.

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