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Environmental science & technology

Mercury vapor release from broken compact fluorescent lamps and in situ capture by new nanomaterial sorbents.


PMID 18754507

Abstract

The projected increase in the use of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) motivates the development of methods to manage consumer exposure to mercury and its environmental release at the end of lamp life. This work characterizes the time-resolved release of mercury vapor from broken CFLs and from underlying substrates after removal of glass fragments to simulate cleanup. In new lamps, mercury vapor is released gradually in amounts that reach 1.3 mg or 30% of the total lamp inventory after four days. Similar time profiles but smaller amounts are released from spent lamps or from underlying substrates. Nanoscale formulations of S, Se, Cu, Ni, Zn, Ag, and WS2 are evaluated for capture of Hg vapor under these conditions and compared to conventional microscale formulations. Adsorption capacities range over 7 orders of magnitude, from 0.005 (Zn micropowder) to 188 000 microg/g (unstabilized nano-Se), depending on sorbent chemistry and particle size. Nanosynthesis offers clear advantages for most sorbent chemistries. Unstabilized nano-selenium in two forms (dry powder and impregnated cloth) was successfully used in a proof-of-principle test for the in situ, real-time suppression of Hg vapor escape following CFL fracture.

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