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How should Fluorescent lamps, HID lamps and Halogen lamps be handled during installtion and disposal?
The two primary issues in lamp safety are proper installation and proper disposal. The single most important installation problem with arc source lamps such as fluorescent, high pressure sodium and metal halide is not disconnecting the power before installation. Failure to interrupt the power before connecting the lamp will definitively damage the lamp the only issue is the level of damage sustained by the lamp. It is possible that the lamp will actually fail at installation or have its lifetime severely curtailed. In regard to halogen lamps it is necessary to avoid skin contact with the lamp surface for T2, T3 and T4 lamp types because the envelope of the bulb is actually quartz not glass. Quartz is a porous material which will absorb the oils from your skin and then bubble or break when the lamp is heated. The best method to avoid contamination is to wear gloves or use a clean cloth when installing a quartz lamp. If the lamp does get soiled it may be wiped down with denatured (rubbing) alcohol. These precautions do not apply to any quartz halogen lamp that has an outer glass envelope such as a halogen PAR lamp.
As noted above arc source lamps such as fluorescent and HID lamps must be recycled. This is not due to the lamp itself being hazardous waste since virtually all fluorescent lamps pass the TCLP (toxicity) test but because of our society's waste disposal methods which concentrate high volumes of trash in relatively small areas. It is the concentration of lamp debris that increases the mercury level in a given landfill. This fact is important when cleaning up after a broken lamp in your business or residence. The mercury level in a typical fluorescent lamp is only 4 milligrams. This is such a small amount that it is virtually undetectable once a lamp is broken. When cleaning up after lamp damage use a removal method appropriate to the surface that collects all the loose particles and removes the residue. Brooms and vacuums are not recommended as they will agitate the mercury as well as concentrate the remnants of the mercury. Be as thorough as possible and prudent about maintaining no open skin contact with the debris. All other items in a fluorescent lamp are inert including the gases and phosphor coatings and pose no danger to the user. Dispose of the entire contents in a separate trash bag or carton for personal safety as the broken glass is quite sharp. Please note that broken fluorescent and HID lamps cannot be recycled.