‘Neon light’ refers to all gas discharge bulbs that use noble gases. Only red bulbs are the true neon lights since ‘it’s the only one that uses neon. Red neon lights ‘don’t contain Mercury. Today, almost every other ‘neon light’ uses Argon, Phosphor, and yes, Mercury.
According to a non-profit, non-partisan, interstate association called NEWMOA, neon lamps that are sold in 2001 have significant amounts of Mercury. Neon lights are estimated to contain approximately 250- 600 mg of Mercury per bulb. The level mainly depends on the manufacturer’s decision.
Neon light as a cottage industry
Artisans make each lamp in small workshops. As the number of neon light manufacturers grow over the years, Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC) tends to find it difficult to identify them. This scheme results in the body not receiving notifications from most of the manufacturers.
The following data shows information gathered from manufacturing reporting to IMERC and for the companies that are represented by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) only.
* The data for 2001 doesn’t break out HID lamps by particular types; a few manufacturers gave this information.
** Some HID lamps are included in this category.