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Eco bulbs, are Extremely Dangerous if they break due to Mercury inside

Posted on: March 9, 2011

Energy-saving light bulbs were at the centre of a fresh health scare last night after researchers claimed they can release potentially harmful amounts of mercury if broken.

Levels of toxic vapour around smashed eco-bulbs were up to 20 times higher than the safe guideline limit for an indoor area, the study said.

It added that broken bulbs posed a potential health risk to pregnant women, babies and small children.

The concerns surround ‘compact fluorescent lamps’ (CFLs), the most common type of eco-bulb in Britain, which are mini-versions of the strip lights found in offices.

The European Union is phasing out the traditional ‘incandescent bulbs’ used for more than 120 years and is forcing people to switch to low-energy alternatives to meet its climate change targets.

A CFL uses a fifth of the energy of a conventional bulb and can save £7 a year in bills. However, critics complain that CFLs’ light is harsh and flickery. Medical charities say they can trigger epileptic fits, migraines and skin rashes and have called for an ‘opt out’ for vulnerable people.

Incandescent bulbs do not contain mercury, along with other variants of energy-saving lights, such as LEDs and halogen bulbs. The study, for Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, tested a ‘worst case’ scenario using two CFLs, one containing 2 milligrams of mercury and the other 5 milligrams. Neither lamp had a protective casing and both were broken when hot.

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Wilhelm Klauditz Institute found that they released around 7 micrograms (there are 1,000 micrograms in a milligram) per cubic metre of air.The official guideline limit is 0.35 micrograms per cubic metre.

Federal Environment Agency president Jochen Flasbarth said: ‘The presence of mercury is the downside to energy-saving lamps. We need a lamp technology that can prevent mercury pollution soon.

‘The positive and necessary energy savings of up to 80 per cent as compared with light bulbs must go hand in hand with a safe product that poses no risks to health.’

During tests the German government agency’s researchers were alarmed to discover that some bulbs had no protective cover and broke when hot.

High levels of mercury were measured at floor level up to five hours after the bulbs failed.

Paul Klymenko from Planet Ark is a big supporter of bulbs.

Planet Ark is heralding the big changes set for next month when the lights go out on the traditional light bulb.

Eddison’s bulb will be turned off when the Australian Federal Government’s banning companies from importing any more of the globes.

Energy-saving bulbs are the future.

But are they more expensive to use?

And do they really last as long as we’re told?

1. They’re more expensive (they’re actually a good money saver)

2. They’re ugly (there are many more styles than just the original three-prong ones on sale now)

3. They can’t be dimmed (certain styles now can be)

4. They don’t last as long as we’re told (cheaper ones may have this problem, but any reputable brand will usually last longer than the average 6000 hours)

5. They give out a harsh white light (you can now get different styles, including candle-style and “moonlight”)

6. A broken globe can contaminate your house (they do contain mercury – but you would need to break one in every room every day for this to even be a possible problem – they actually contain less mercury than a normal fluorescent bulb)

7. They contain mercury which makes them worse for the environment (using these globes actually stops more mercury being released into the environment from coal fired power plants)

You can buy energy-efficient light bulbs at most hardware stores and eco stores. Lighting stores may also be of help.

Facts:

1. They’re not as effective as claimed and lose output with age. Thus you don’t save as much as claimed.

2. All FLs still have suboptimal colour rendition.

3. Only a few very expensive models can be dimmed.

4. Frequent switching reduces lifespan with up to 85%.

5. True, there are softer colours now.

6. Just one CAN contaminate your home. No safe limits.

7. Millions of ball pen points add up to a lot. A teaspoon can poison a lake. Not all electricity comes from coal.

Read More…

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