We need to shed some light on this story.
How can countries ban a safe product and replace it with a dangerous one?
Consumer protection organizations in Germany have demanded a suspension of the EU ban on incandescent light bulbs. The organizations are citing official tests, which show the new compact fluorescent lamps to be dangerous if broken.
Mercury in compact fluorescent lamps exists in a gaseous form when working. If the glass is broken, when the lamp is hot, gaseous mercury escapes. If the glass is broken when the lamp is cold, the mercury will be condensed to a liquid film and should not be touched by unprotected hands.
According to tests released by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), the energy saving bulbs raise mercury levels in the air surrounding them, as much as 20 times higher than regulations allow for up to five hours after they are broken.The new tests also raise questions about the disposal of compact fluorescent lamps when they no longer work.
The Local, a German newspaper which prints news about Germany and the EU in English, had this to say in a story:
Consumer groups call for end to EU light bulb ban Published: 3 Dec 10 07:55 CET
“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, 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.