LGUs Urged to Assist Schools in Managing Mercury-Containing Lamp Waste

With the yearly Brigada Eskwela in full swing, a waste and pollution
watch group requested city and municipal governments to assist schools under
their jurisdiction in managing busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps.

The EcoWaste Coalition aired the urgent request after finding spent fluorescent
lamps improperly disposed of in some school dumpsters as the clean-up drive
enters its third day.  
“Spent lamps should not be hastily thrown in dumpsters to protect the glass
tubing from breaking and releasing its mercury content in vapor form into the
surroundings,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“It is obvious from our monitoring that our public schools do not have the
capacity to deal with waste of hazardous nature such as broken or busted
fluorescent lamps containing mercury,” he pointed out.
“It is therefore important for local authorities to step in and help our
schools by separately collecting their spent lamps for environmentally sound
recycling in government-accredited hazardous waste treatment facilities,” he
“Local government units should partner with lighting companies or with the
lighting industry association to seek practical ways of preventing lamp waste
from polluting the environment with mercury,” he added. 

In the meantime, the EcoWaste Coalition advised
school principals, teachers and janitorial staff to ensure that spent compact,
circular and linear fluorescent lamps are labelled and safely wrapped for
temporary storage, stressing that the storeroom should be out of children’s
reach and away from elements and human traffic.

Unknown to many, the reckless disposal of
fluorescent lamp in bins or dumpsters will cause their fragile glass tubing to
break or explode, exposing school janitors, waste collectors and the public to
mercury, a potent neurotoxin.

Citing information from the government-published
“Guidebook on the Management of Mercury-Containing Lamp Wastes,” the group
warned that “when mercury-containing lamps are broken, compacted, crushed, or
disposed of improperly, mercury is released into the air, water and land,
posing significant threat to people and the environment.” 
According to the said guidebook, “mercury and its compounds are highly toxic…
even low level exposure to mercury has caused serious health effects that
including neurological damage, reproductive system damage, behavioral problems
and learning disabilities.” 
To prevent the further generation of mercury-containing lamp waste, the
EcoWaste Coalition encouraged schools to consider investing in
energy-efficient, but mercury-free lighting substitutes such as light-emitting
diode (LED) bulbs.