Energy saving light bulbs contains carcinogenic chemicals

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

London: Researchers have warned that use of energy saving light bulbs contain cancer-causing chemicals.

Scientists warned that prolonged contact with the European Union-imposed bulbs could put people at risk after discovering that they “pulse out” poisonous materials when switched on.

While it was known that harmful amounts of mercury are released if one of the new “green” bulbs breaks, experts have now discovered they also emit several carcinogenic chemicals.

These include phenol – a poison used by the Nazis to kill concentration camp victims – and the toxins naphthalene and styrene, which are released as a form of steam when the bulb is switched on.

The German scientists behind the report advise that the bulbs should not be left on for extended periods, especially near a person’s head.

“For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment,” the Daily Express quoted Researcher Peter Braun, who carried out the tests at the independent Berlin Alab Laboratory, as saying.

He said the bulbs could be especially harmful if left on near a child’s head all night or used to read by for long periods near an adult.

But the Department for the Environment remains adamant that compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are safe.

According to advice on its website: “Energy efficient light bulbs are not a danger to the public.

“Although they contain mercury, limited at 5mg per lamp, it cannot escape from a lamp that is intact.

“In any case, the very small amount contained in an energy efficient bulb is unlikely to cause harm even if the lamp should be broken,” the website added.