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NUCON International Study Finds Mercury Vapor in Recycling Containers Reaches Unsafe Levels, Indicating Need for Adsorption

NUCON International Inc., Columbus, OH, a worldwide leader in providing gas, vapor and liquid phase adsorption solutions to the Nuclear Power and other industries, has announced the results of recent tests to determine the levels of mercury vapor that accumulate in mercury lamp storage and shipping containers when lamps inside the containers are broken. The study concluded that mercury vapor levels within containers containing broken fluorescent lamps exceed health and safety exposure limits and guidelines. NUCON also ran parallel tests using a new adsorbent technology and achieved more than 95 percent mercury vapor reduction within the same containers.

Tests were conducted by breaking fluorescent lamps inside a sealed vapor-containing bag and box in a specially designed test chamber and continuously measuring vapor levels inside the bag. The results indicated that opening a package containing broken fluorescent lamps and/or CFLs presents a significant risk of mercury vapor exposure, potentially rising well above both the OSHA 8-hour permissible exposure limit of 100 ug/m3 and the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) level of 10,000 ug/m3.

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Major University Validates Mercury VaporLok® Benefits

A recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health suggests that most containers used for storage and transportation of used fluorescent lamps to recycling centers do not adequately protect against mercury vapors emitted from broken lamps. The study, published in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, found that of the five package designs tested, only one minimized exposure levels below ALL acceptable Federal and State regulations and guidelines. VaporLok Products supplied the patented package design that includes Mercury VaporLok® vapor-resistant bags.

Additionally, the successful design was the only one tested that also met the more stringent California OSHA requirements by nearly 10 times. This packaging configuration lowered mercury vapor concentrations by 99.7 percent compared to a single layer cardboard box design that was also tested. Mercury VaporLok® bags are used to store, ship and recycle other mercury-containing products including batteries, devices and dental wastes.

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