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Mercury-containing light bulbs/lamps

This item is banned from disposal in the trash in Vermont. It must be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Disposal Options

Mercury-containing light bulbs and lamps are accepted at the District Transfer Station. Mercury-containing lightbulbs and lamps include:

  • Fluorescent light bulbs and tubes (straight, circular and U-shaped)
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
  • UV radiation tubes,
  • High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs
  • Metal halide bulbs 
  • Sodium bulbs 

Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal. When lamps are broken or thrown into the trash, mercury is released into the environment in the form of an invisible vapor or a bead. It is best to avoid any exposure to mercury and prevent its release into the environment where it can damage our lakes and streams and poison fish and wildlife. For guidance on what to do if you break a mercury bulb, visit the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation web page about disposal of mercury-containing products or see the instructions below. 

If you break a mercury-containing light bulb :

Do not vacuum or sweep the area as it will spread mercury vapor to other areas of the room. Also, keep all people and pets away from breakage area so that mercury powder is not tracked into other areas.

For breakage on a hard surface:

  1. Ventilate the area well by closing interior doors and vents, opening windows and any exterior doors in the room, and leaving the room for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Remove all materials you can and do not vacuum or sweep.
  3. Wear disposable gloves, if available.
  4. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and dust with a stiff piece of paper or cardboard (such as playing cards or index cards).
  5. Pick up any remaining small pieces of glass and powder using sticky tape (such as masking tape or duct tape).
  6. Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipe.
  7. Place all cleanup materials (cardboard, gloves, tape, etc.) in a plastic bag (and double bag) to seal it; or preferably, place into a glass or rigid container with a lid. Store the bag or container outside of the house in an area inaccessible to children.
  8. Wash your hands.
  9. Bring to the District Transfer Station during household hazardous waste hours.
  10. Leave the windows in the affected room or area open as long as practical (weather permitting).

For breakage on carpet, complete steps 1 through 6 above, then:

  1. If rug is removable, take it outside, shake, and air out as long as practical.
  2. After cleanup and the room or area has been ventilated: the first time you vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, shut the door to the room or close off the area from as much of the rest of the house as possible, and ventilate the room when vacuuming. Remove the vacuum bag once done cleaning the area, wipe vacuum with wet wipe and put the bag and/or vacuum debris, including cleanup materials, into a plastic bag (double bag it) and store the bag outside the house in an area inaccessible to children. Refer to #5 above for proper disposal options.
  3. After vacuuming, keep window open, door closed and children/pets out of room.
  4. Consider removal of carpeting section where the breakage has occurred as a precaution when there are infants, small children, and pregnant women present.

For questions, call the Vermont Department of Health at (802) 240-5076 (24 hour pager).


Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Items where ‟or no charge” is indicated may be covered by Vermont Mercury Lamp Law — No charge for general purpose mercury bulbs, 10 or fewer per day.

  • Compact Fluorescent Lamps: No Charge
  • U-Tube, Circular or Straight Tubes 4 ft. or shorter: $0.35 each (or no charge)
  • Straight Tubes longer than 4 ft: $0.60 each (or no charge)
  • HID Lamps: $1 each (or no charge)
  • UV, Neon or other Specialty Lamps: $1.95 each


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