Letter to the Editor: LEDs, CFLs and the EU bulb ban

Jan. 15, 2009
In the light of the EU decision to phase-out incandescent lamps, the LED industry should be proactive and make people aware of the problems with CFLs.
[Comment on this issue via our Blog entry "Europe bans incandescent lamps".]

Dear Sir,

The European Union just decided to phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs in an effort to boost energy efficiency. Over the next three years, old-fashioned incandescent light-bulbs will be phased out and then banned from Europe.

Most incandescent lights will be replaced by Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), which contain mercury in the form of a vapor. They should only be disposed of in a recycling process that captures the mercury. However many communities will not have convenient access to recycling and these lighting fixtures will end up in landfills. Mercury in the environment is transformed into methyl mercury, which accumulates in the food chain.

In addition to the mercury issue, these CFLs produce an unbalanced spectrum of light (deficient in the red end) and high-frequency electromagnetic pulses. The electromagnetic pulses from CFLs can leak back into the wiring (called “dirty electricity”), producing similar effects in other rooms and houses.

According to peer-reviewed studies, exposure to the light and/or the pulses has been associated with attention and learning problems, reduced muscle strength, headaches, insomnia, depression, skin cancer and more.

I think the LED industry needs to be proactive here, not just by developing and promoting LEDs, but by making people aware of the problems with CFLs.


Alan V. Schmukler