The Island’s Footprint Trust has expressed concerns over the ‘alarmist’ story that low energy light bulbs could harm health.
The Environment Agency has called for more information to be made available on the health and environmental risks posed by low-energy light bulbs, despite the risks being minor.
It says because the bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, more information about safe recycling is needed. It also wants health warnings printed on packaging and information on how to clear up smashed bulbs in the home.
But a leading toxicologist has played down the risks, saying several bulbs would have to be smashed at once to pose a danger. The Trust endorses his guidance adding that this ‘over-the-top’ response could lead to people ditching their low energy lamps.
Toxicologist Dr David Ray, from the University of Nottingham, said about 6-8mg of mercury was present in a typical low-energy bulb, which he described as a “pretty small amount”.
“The biggest danger is repeated exposure – a one off exposure is not as potentially dangerous compared to working in a light bulb factory.”
“If you smash one bulb then that is not too much of a hazard. However, if you broke five bulbs in a small unventilated room then you might be in short term danger.”
The Trust also hit back at claims that the UV from bulbs could harm people.
“The high levels of UV from the sun can cause skin cancer, however the UV from lamps is very low and there is no link…..”
“Only those with diagnosed sensitive skin problems need to continue using the incandescent bulbs. New bulbs are being developed for people with over sensitive skin. It is also not the case that all incandescent bulbs are to be phased out..”
“People expose themselves to dangerous chemicals every day. Spraying toxic chemicals in the form of so-called ‘air-fresheners’ or poisons in fly-killers are far more dangerous – due to people’s constant exposure.”
“However, falling down the stairs and being in a road accident are far more likely to harm us than small exposures to most chemicals.”
“The biggest threat to the heath and wellbeing of the human race as a whole is man-made climate change.”
“Using low energy lamps reduces mercury in the environment, as less coal is burnt in power stations…mercury from that source is the biggest contributor”
“The Trust would however, welcome information to be promoted on the recycling of all fluorescent bulbs. These can be safely disposed of at Lynnbottom Civic Amenity Site.”