In 2001, Californians disposed of or recycled an estimated 122 million used mercury-containing fluorescent lamps. Businesses and residences (as of February 8, 2006) must send these lamps to off-site commercial recycling facilities. In the past, these lamps were either disposed of in municipal landfills or recycled at off-site commercial recycling facilities. Mercury-containing lamps disposed in landfills contributed to mercury in California's environment via surface runoff, leaching to groundwater, and potentially, atmospheric emissions in landfill gas.
Many businesses and household hazardous waste facilities (HHWF) are interested in using small on-site drum-top lamp crushers to reduce the volume of spent fluorescent lamps and to improve their ability to store, handle and transport these wastes. In the past, small lamp crushers operated in California and other states have contaminated the work areas and buildings with mercury. Because of the high interest in these devices, DTSC's Technology Development Branch worked with the U.S. EPA to evaluate the effectiveness of these units. Units which are determined to effectively control mercury emissions to meet CalOSHA requirements will be considered.