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Rogue Disposal firms fluorescent tube policy

Beginning March 1, Rogue Disposal and Recycling Inc. will no longer accept fluorescent lights from businesses, offices and public agencies.

Rogue Disposal Manager Don Cordell said the policy applies not just to the long light tubes, but to the compact fluorescent lights, or green lights, which may be energy efficient but have a hazardous problem.

There's mercury in all those bulbs, he said.

The mercury is in a gaseous state in the tubes and is required for the bulbs to function, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Although the bulbs contain a tiny amount of mercury, mercury is highly toxic and builds up in the food chain. Mercury also is used in mercury vapor, metal halide, high-pressure sodium and neon lamps.

The change at Rogue Disposal comes from a state mandate from former Gov. John Kitzhaber in 1999 to limit the introduction of persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs) into the environment.

Other PBTs include pesticide ingredients such as DDT and chlordane. They are dangerous to humans and the environment because they're long-lasting and can build up to harmful levels in the food chain, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Web site.

Cordell said that as far as he knows, Jackson County's is the first landfill in the state to start refusing fluorescent bulbs. He said that while the policy change is not being enforced, DEQ supports it.

This is one of those issues that is the right thing to do, he said. We think it's good business.

The regulation currently applies only to businesses.

Administering a program that includes every household is just not feasible, said Cordell.

He said he hopes people make the extra effort and don't just slip the fluorescent tubes or bulbs into regular trash. Fluorescent lights can be turned in at Rogue Disposal's annual household hazardous waste collection event in May.

For households we encourage recycling, he said.

Dan Mock, market sales specialist for Safety Kleen Inc. in Medford, said it's essential the lights are handled properly.

If they become broken, they're considered hazardous waste, he said.

Safety Kleen offers a program to pick up and dispose of the tubes and bulbs.

Their smallest customers turn in about 40 tubes a year for &

36;46 dollars, he said, while larger clients, such as bowling alleys and schools, may go through 2,500 a year. He said there's special pricing for large quantities.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

Companies that can safely recycle fluorescent tubes or bulbs include:

American Appliance Recyclers, 826-2211 or 800-475-0131.

DS Recycling, Dave Smith, 955-8639.

Mike Sabol Recycling, 535-2330.

Safety Kleen, 770-8066.