A recycling program for light bulbs with mercury has kept nearly seven grams of mercury out of our waterways in its first four months of operation.
Seven grams of mercury is enough to make more than 20 tons of fish unsafe to eat, said David Gerraughty, the mercury program coordinator at Clean Water Action Rhode Island, the group that’s paying for the cost of this recycling program.
Gerraughty said the most common exposure to mercury is through eating contaminated fish.
“Bigger fish like tuna are the ones where the mercury buildup is really bad and becomes really dangerous, particularly for children and pregnant women, because it [mercury] has effects on early childhood development as well as doing kidney damage in adults.”
The program has collected about 1,700 bulbs throughout 13 hardware stores across the state.
Robert Ferraro, owner of Jerry’s Paint and Hardware in Narragansett, says it’s a worthwhile program.
“We felt as though, because we sell the product, we should also be able to service it after the fact. We want to get it out of the waste stream and make sure that it’s handled properly.”
The recycling program accepts linear bulbs up to four feet long. Big box stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, and the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation also collect light bulbs with mercury.
Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.