How it works
The new technology can capture mercury vapor in the package through adsorption, protecting users from dangerously high vapor levels caused by incidental exposure during the accumulation, storage, and transportation of lamps. This carbon-based adsorbent effectively captures mercury vapors inside recycling packages, reducing vapors to levels approaching OSHA’s eight hour PEL.
NUCON replicated the test methods in a University of Minnesota study conducted in 2008, breaking 40 T-8 lamps in a 4-ft-long package using a mercury vapor containment bag. While the original study focused on measuring mercury vapor levels outside of the package, NUCON’s test methodology was designed to measure mercury vapor levels both inside and outside the package. The initial control tests using no adsorbent yielded extremely high and dangerous vapor readings inside the package. The vapor levels rapidly rose above both the OSHA eight hour PEL and the NIOSH’s IDLH level.
When an adsorbent was introduced within the packages, vapors found within lamp storage, shipping or recycling containers decreased. Results show the adsorbent significantly reduces the initial vapor readings and then in a short amount of time, rapidly begins to reduce the overall vapor levels. Levels were reduced by nearly 60 percent in only 15 minutes and over 95 percent after 12 hours, according to the NUCON study.
Another significant feature of the adsorbent technology is its overall capacity to adsorb mercury vapors. The testing has shown that the adsorption capacity of the adsorbent is well in excess of the potential mercury vapor that could be released from 100 percent breakage of a full lamp package. Further, in the 40 lamp break tests, only a small percentage of the capacity of the pad was used.
This capacity is particularly important due to the fact that lamps release mercury vapors for many days after the initial breakage. While the mercury-specific packaging has been proven to effectively contain high levels of vapor, this added adsorption quality will provide a necessary layer of protection against incidental mercury exposure for generators, transporters, and consumers as they handle and recycle used lamps.
To safeguard against mercury exposure, used and broken CFLs must be placed in mercury-specific packages that can contain and adsorb vapor, reducing concentrations that accumulate within packaging to safe levels. By utilizing an adsorbent technology, mercury vapors are greatly reduced and provide safe handling and recycling of fluorescent lamps and CFLs.
Todd Anderson is CFO with VaporLok Products, LLC.