Most HID lamps and all fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury. Although CFLs contain an average of 4 mg of mercury, they should either be recycled or disposed of appropriately. Fortunately, the disposal and recycling costs are just a small fraction of a typical fixture’s cost. 

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to dispose of light ballasts at home.

1.Remove all the PCB-containing light ballasts from your home

The PCB-containing light bulbs that we are currently using have exceeded their lifespan. It’s therefore likely that were are about to experience their rapture. If they aren’t handled and disposed of properly, they’ll be posing a serious health hazard to the public. Besides, it will be challenging and costly to clean up the mess. According to EPA’s recommendations, homeowners should remove PCB-containing ballasts from their buildings as soon as possible to prevent dermal exposure and potential inhalation.

2. Check your country's EPA guidelines

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers guidelines on how hazardous waste should be disposed of. Nearly all mercury-containing lamps fall under the household hazardous waste category. However, local regulations give the final directive regarding the handling of such lamps. It’s therefore essential to find your local authority’s rules on fluorescent light ballasts disposal.

3. Incinerate any PCB-based light ballasts

Most light ballasts manufactured through 1979 may contain Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). However, such ballasts raise issues if they’re leaking or removed and discarded as hazardous waste. EPA Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) states that PCB-containing light ballasts should be incinerated. 

4. Dispose of the light ballasts at a local recycling center

If the ballast isn’t leaking, the lighting fixture doesn’t need special handling or disposal because there isn’t a direct exposure to the mercury risks. Homeowners can remove their non-leaking light ballasts and take them to recycling facilities or dispose of them properly.

5. Locate a drop-off location or a household hazardous waste collection event

You can dispose of intact PCB-containing light ballasts at a drop-off location or household hazardous waste collection event sponsored by your city, county or garbage disposal district.

It’s important to note that even intact ballasts that contain PCBs releases small amounts of PCBs into the air. By removing PCB-containing FLBs from your building, you’ll be initiating a potential investment that’ll pay off numerous long-term benefits to both the environment and the broader community.

Why recycle light ballasts?

Wet light ballast containing PCBs pose environmental and health concerns. Therefore, they’re considered regulated waste, and their best disposal option is recycling.

Local governments have put stringent measures to regulate ballast disposal. Inappropriate disposal practices of PCB-containing ballasts are now a liability. The law subjects the facilities that dispose of such wastes to hefty fines, and they can even be charged with landfills clean up.

Recycling light ballasts facilitates the removal of these toxic materials from landfills, making the environment safer and healthier for everyone.

There are numerous light ballast recycling facilities in different municipalities. Check with your local household hazardous waste recycling facility to find out what waste they collect for recycling. Recycling the PCB-containing ballast can significantly help minimize contamination risks and make our environment a safe place to live