Beryllium as Health Hazard.
The disposal of fluorescent lamp tubes is a subject that has aroused considerable interest because of the serious health hazards of beryllium compounds which have become better know. Once the burnt-out fluorescent tubes having these compounds are destroyed in open, the beryllium dust can be inhaled, subsequently resulting in danger to the health of individuals exposed. These compounds have, in the past, been used in the fluorescent powders employed by some firms in the manufacture of fluorescent lamps and may well be in use by manufacturers producing low-cost fluorescent lamps these days.
Safe disposal of burnt-out fluorescent tubes
The proper disposal procedure for burnt-out fluorescent tubes is that the tubes should be broken up under water. This is the only positive way of preventing the dust of beryllium compounds from freeing itself and inhaling. The vacuum of the lamp should be broken by knocking the cap off smartly and the rest of the tubes can then be broken.
Some manufacturer of fluorescent tubes has now discontinued the use of beryllium compounds. The above precaution should, therefore, be taken unless it is known for certain that the tubes being disposed of do not contain any harmful substance.