How to Dispose of Neon Lights
You must dispose of most neon lights in accordance with federal, state and local regulations. Read more to find out how.
Neon lights that glow red contain neon gas. Other neon lights contain helium, argon or krypton gas. The small amount of gas in these bulbs is not harmful, even if the bulb breaks. However, some of these lights contain mercury vapor, which can be hazardous. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mercury-containing lamps are hazardous waste. Therefore, you must dispose of them in accordance with federal, state and local regulations.
Things You Will Need
- Disposable gloves
- Trash bags
- Duct tape
- Permanent marker
- Piece of cardboard or stiff paper
- Disposable wet wipes
Do not use a vacuum cleaner or broom to clean up broken bulbs on hard surfaces. If you must vacuum bulb fragments from a rug or carpet, discard the vacuum bag, or wipe the vacuum canister, after you finish.
Disposal of Intact Bulbs
Put on disposable gloves.
Carefully remove the neon light bulb from the light fixture.
Put the bulb back in its original packaging, if possible. Otherwise, place it in a trash bag, preferably with padding (e.g., paper towels or bubble paper). Put the bag inside another trash bag. Seal the bag tightly with duct tape, and tape a label to the bag that reads "mercury light bulb."
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Contact your local authorities to find out where to dispose of the bulb, or look online to find the nearest recycling center or household hazardous waste facility in your area (see Resources).
Disposal of Broken Bulbs
Remove people and pets from the room containing the broken neon bulb. Turn off the heating or air conditioning, open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes.
Put on disposable gloves. Slide the cardboard or paper underneath the fragments of glass and powder. Deposit the fragments in a trash bag.
Pick up any remaining powder and fragments with duct tape, and place the tape in the trash bag.
Wipe the affected area with wet wipes. Place the wipes and gloves in the bag. Put the bag into another trash bag. Seal the bag tightly with duct tape, and label it with a sign reading "broken mercury light bulb." Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Contact your local authorities to find out where to dispose of the broken bulb, or look online to find the nearest recycling center or household hazardous waste facility in your area (see Resources).
Thomas McMurchie began writing professionally in 2009 for various websites. He has written several articles about home maintenance and repair. McMurchie holds a Bachelor of Arts in education and a Master of Arts in special education.