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Light Systems and Demolition

Mercury

Five different types of compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • fluorescent bulbs
  • compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
  • high intensity discharge (HID) lamps
  • ultraviolet lamps
  • neon lights

“Silent” light switches, which were manufactured prior to 1991 and may be present in older buildings, may also contain mercury.

To prevent mercury contamination, these items should be isolated, labeled, and taken to a mercury recycler or consolidation site.

To prevent the release of mercury, the mercury should not be removed from items, and fluorescent lamps should not be crushed.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Old and recent fluorescent lamp ballast side by side; older one contains PCBs but newer one does not.
Comparison of pre-1979 ballast and new ballast.

Fluorescent light ballasts manufactured through 1979 may contain PCBs. Ballasts manufactured between 1979 and 1998 that do not contain PCBs should be labeled "No PCBs."

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Ballasts containing PCBs are not frequently found in homes, but they are occasionally identified during asbestos inspections.

If a ballast that is not labeled "No PCBs" is found, it is best to assume it contains PCBs.

To prevent the release of PCBs:
  • avoid breaking these items
  • handle them separately from other demolition waste
  • take them to an appropriate facility

Check with your state environmental agency about how to properly dispose of PCB ballasts in your area.

Disposal of PCB-Containing Fluorescent Light Ballasts