Environmental Health, and Safety

January 2016- Happy New Year!!

Happy New year, I hope everyone is doing well after the holidays! The new year is a great time to take a fresh look at our operations and find areas for improvement. This month we will provide some basic guidance on Universal Waste management and the safe clean up of broken mercury containing bulbs. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or to request follow up information.

What is Universal Waste?

Universal wastes are hazardous wastes that are widely produced by households and many different types of businesses. Universal wastes include televisions, computers and other electronic devices as well as batteries, fluorescent lamps, mercury thermostats, and other mercury containing equipment, among others. Universal wastes are hazardous wastes but universally generated, therefore, they are managed under relaxed standards.

The hazardous waste regulations identify the following categories of hazardous wastes that can be managed as universal wastes.

  • Electronic devices: Includes televisions, computer monitors, cell phones, VCRs, computer CPUs and portable DVD players.
  • Batteries: Most household-type batteries; does not include vehicle type lead acid batteries.
  • Electric lamps: Fluorescent tubes and bulbs, high intensity discharge lamps, sodium vapor lamps and electric lamps that contain added mercury, or lead.
  • Mercury-containing equipment: Thermostats, mercury switches, mercury thermometers, etc.
  • CRTs: The glass picture tubes removed from devices such as televisions and computer monitors.
  • Non-empty aerosol cans

Universal Waste Management Practices

The following management practices are by no means all inclusive, but they touch on many of the most common issues we see throughout the park. Regulations vary between household and business operations; for complete regulatory requirements visit the CA Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Universal Waste website, or feel free to contact the Environmental and Safety Office (contact information is below).

All universal waste (UW) must be accumulated in a structurally sound & compatible container.

Marking: All UW containers must be marked with the accumulation start date, point of contact, and contents. Contents must be marked with approved nomenclature:

  • Universal Waste- Batteries
  • Universal Waste- Lamps
  • Universal Waste- Mercury-Containing Equipment
  • Universal Waste- Electronic Devices
  • Universal Waste- CRT(s)

Accumulation Time: Universal waste shall not be accumulated for more than one year.

Disposal: A handler may not send universal waste to a municipal solid waste (garbage) landfill or a non-hazardous waste recycling center. Handlers should maintain documentation of transfer or disposal for three years. All handlers of universal waste must relinquish their universal waste to one of the following:

  • Another handler (typically a business that specializes in collecting, storing, accumulating and shipping universal wastes).

Examples: A household hazardous waste facility, a “Take-it-Back Partner” such as a retailer or manufacturer, or a collection event

  • A universal waste transporter.

Examples: A curbside HHW collection program, a package service (e.g., postal service, UPS), a destination facility that offers a pick-up service

  • A universal waste destination facility (generally, a facility with a permit to treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste).

Cleaning Up a Broken CFL- Recommendations for When a CFL or Other Mercury-Containing Bulb Breaks

Which Bulbs Contain Mercury?

  • Fluorescent bulbs:
    • Linear, U-tube and circline fluorescent tubes
    • Bug zappers
    • Tanning bulbs
    • Black lights
    • Germicidal bulbs
    • High output bulbs, and
    • Cold-cathode fluorescent bulbs.
  • High intensity discharge bulbs:
    • Metal halide
    • Ceramic metal halide
    • High pressure sodium, and mercury vapor.
  • Neon bulbs

Why is It Important to Clean Up a Broken CFL Properly?

CFLs and the other light bulbs listed above contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a bulb breaks, some of this mercury may be released as mercury vapor.

Clean Up Instructions:

Follow this link to the US EPA clean up instructions.

About Us

The Environmental and Safety Programs Division assists with regulatory compliance, occupational health and safety, remediation project management, technical support, and sustainability measures throughout the park.