The bulb eater crushes spent fluorescent lamps of any size into 100% recyclable material and also removes virtually all mercury vapor from the lamps. The system is mounted to a 55-gallon container and can hold up to 1,350 fluorescent lamps and 3,000 compact fluorescent lamps. The three stage filtering process removes hazardous particulates and gases from the bulbs while they are being crushed. The bulb eater will increase valuable storage space and decrease the cost of recycling bulbs.
Take a look at a video created by Air Supply Corporation, showing the Bulb Eater in action!
Why is Mercury an Environmental Concern?
Mercury is a metallic element that can accumulate in living tissue, and is considered to be a persistent pollutant, because it does not break down in the environment. When mercury accumulates in living tissue, it builds up in the food chain. This process is called bio-accumulation.
Mercury can bind to proteins in all fish tissue, and there is no method of cooking or cleaning fish that will reduce the amount of mercury in a meal. Mercury in water bodies and sediment is taken up by tiny animals and plant (plankton). Smaller fishs eat large quantities of plankton over time. The larger predatory fish consume the small fish, accumulating mercury in their tissues. The older and larger the fish, the greater the potential for high mercury levels in their bodies. Fish are caught and eaten by humans and animals, causing mercury to accumulate in their tissues.
What are Health Effects of Mercury?
- Acute (short-term) poisoning due to mercury vapors adversely affects the lungs primarily, in the form of acute interstitial pneumonitis, bronchitis, and bronchiolitis.
- Chronic (long-term) exposure to lower mercury levels over prolonged periods of time produces symptoms that can vary widely from individual to individual. These may include weakness, fatigability, loss of appetite, loss of weight, insomnia, indigestion, diarrhea, metallic taste in the mouth, increased salivation, soreness of mouth or throat, inflammation of gums, black line at the gums, loosening of teeth, irritability, loss of memory, and tremors of fingers, eyelids, lips, or tongue. In general, chronic mercury exposure produces four classical signs: gingivitis, excessive salivation, increased irritability, and muscular tremors. It is rare to see all four together in an individual case.
- More extensive exposures to excessive mercury levels, either by daily exposures or one-time, can produce extreme irritability, excitability, anxiety, delirium with hallucinations, melancholia, manic-depressive psychosis, and adverse effects on the reproductive organs.
- Either acute or chronic exposure may produce permanent changes to affected organs and organ systems.
- Excessive exposure to various forms of mercury has been shown to adversely affect the human central nervous system, kidneys, and reproductive system.
How is Mercury Released into the Environment?
Mercury can be released in the environment from natural sources, such as volcanic eruptions and geothermal activity, marine environments or forest fires. Recent studies suggest that human activity contributes 50 to 70% of mercury in the environment globally. Some of the sources include coal-fired power plants, industrial activities, batteries and fluorescent and High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps. Once mercury enters the environment, the particles will circulate in and out of the atmosphere, and then ends up in the sediments of water bodies.
How Can I Dispose of Material Containing Mercury?
Small amounts of mercury are a necessary component in fluorescent and HID lamps, but when a lamp is broken, crushed, or dispensed in a landfill or incinerator, mercury may be released to the air, surface water, or groundwater. Therefore, it is a good policy to keep the mercury in fluorescent and HID lamps out of the solid waste stream by recycling.
Niagara College uses the Air Cycle Corporation bulb eater to responsibly recycle all fluorescent tube and U lamps.
If you have incandescent bulbs at home that you would like to dispose of, please do not put them in the regular waste stream. Residents of Niagara are able to drop their household hazardous waste items at various household hazardous waste depots from April 2014 to November 2014.
To review the list of drop off depots in the region, follow this link here.
In addition to incandescent bulbs, residents are also able to drop off the following hazardous items:
Antifreeze, batteries, bleach, cleaners, compact fluorescent bulbs, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fluorescent light tubes, gasoline, motor oil, medications, partially full aerosol cans, paint, pool chemicals, propane tanks and cylinders, sharps (in puncture proof container), solvents and thinners.