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Consumer groups call for end to EU light bulb ban
Photo: DPA

Consumer groups call for end to EU light bulb ban

Published: 03 Dec 2010 07:55 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Dec 2010 07:55 GMT+01:00

Consumer protection organisations have demanded a suspension of the EU ban on incandescent light bulbs, citing official tests that showed the new compact fluorescent lamps to be dangerous if broken.

The energy saving bulbs show mercury levels 20 times higher than regulations allow in the air surrounding them for up to five hours after they are broken, according to tests released Thursday by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

“If the industry can’t manage to offer safe bulbs, then the incandescent bulbs must remain on the market until autumn of 2011,” said Gerd Billen, the leader of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZVB).

His group encouraged the federal government to push for a suspension of the ban in Brussels until there was a safe and practical alternative.

“It can’t be that the state bans a safe product and replaces it with a dangerous one,” Billen said.

In September 2009, the EU began phasing out incandescent light bulbs in a bid to save energy and protect the environment. Their replacements were meant to be the energy-saving bulbs such as compact fluorescent and LED lights. The complete phase-out of old light bulbs is to occur by 2012.

So far the UBA has tested just two types of lights.

“There was energy savings of up to 80 percent compared to incandescent bulbs, but this should come with safer products that have no avoidable health risks,” UBA President Jochen Flasbarth said, calling the mercury danger the “Achilles heel” of the energy saving bulbs.

Flasbarth recommended that consumers use energy saving bulbs with protective plastic casings in areas such as children’s rooms to avoid the danger in the short term.

DPA/DAPD/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:22 December 3, 2010 by ReaderX
Well the EU won't ban the use of liquid mercury so long as it is profitable to use it.

There are many different applications that require it. So long as there is no replacement, companies will continue to provide it for sale. This in the long run equals taxes for the Governments. They are not going to give up a cash cow as long as they can still milk it.
17:04 December 3, 2010 by rcampbellnc
I have just setup new LED lighting, even more energy efficient than CFL. But they do cost much, much more. Still, for my needs, main lighting in two large rooms, they were the best decision. 9 lights, $50 EACH! But, each light uses less than 10W of power, can be dimmed (unlike CFL) and has a lifespan of >20 years! I think more effort should be made to get LED lights more cost effective. LED represents a way forward without incandescent lighting -- most new cars are now using LED, time to bring this home.
19:09 December 3, 2010 by Landmine
And nobody in the EU checked this before making this blanket law across all of Europe? Someone was asleep at the wheel....
05:09 December 4, 2010 by rfwilson
@bograt

"So why doesn't the EU simply ban the use of liquid mercury?"

You clearly misunderstand how a fluorescent light works. The mercury in it exists in gaseous form when working. Breaking the glass result in the escape of gaseous mercury. Locking the mercury in an amalgam is little help, because it needs to exit the amalgam as a gas for the lamp to work. Once cooled down, the mercury condenses anywhere in the lamp to a film of liquid.
18:38 December 4, 2010 by ReaderX
@Landmine The laws were made due to lobbyist pushing a green agenda.

Think about it, Someone reinvented the wheel but couldn't really sell it. So how do you force people to buy your product? Easy you make them feel guilty for not doing it.

Think of the poor little Polar bears. I mean without everyone in the EU switching light bulbs poor little knut will die. That's the whole shtick with this green movement.

Now don't get me wrong, I am all for recycling and not intentionally trying to further destroy the planet. But for most of these companies is about money and nothing else.
14:08 December 8, 2010 by JosephR
Do not call them anymore lightbulbs, but electric heatradiators, and you can import them from China.

Has already beeb done in Germany.
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