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Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Lamps

 

About this Publication on Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Lamps

  1. Source for this Publication
  2. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER)
  3. Background to the SCHER opinion
  4. Specific questions asked by the European Commission to the SCHER

1. Source for this Publication

The texts quoted in Level 3 are directly sourced from  "Mercury in Certain Energy-saving Light Bulbs", an opinion produced in 2010 by the SCHER (Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks) of the European Commission.

Levels 1 & 2 were written by Dr. Marisa Fernandez in collaboration with the editorial team of www.greenfacts.org and the DG Health and Consumers of the European Commission.

This publication is produced by Cogeneris under a contract from the DG Health and Consumers of the European Commission.

2. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER)

The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks is one of three independent non-food scientific committees that advise the European Commission on matters of consumer safety, public health and the environment.

The committee was set up in 2004 and renewed in 2008 to provide the European Commission with scientific advice on health and environmental risks. It replaced the Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (CSTEE).

The Committee provides opinions on health and environmental risks related to pollutants in the environmental media and other biological and physical factors or changing physical conditions which may have a negative impact on health and the environment (e.g. in relation to air quality, waters, waste and soils). It also provides opinions on life cycle environmental assessment. It shall also address health and safety issues related to the toxicity and eco-toxicity of biocides.

Without prejudice to the competences of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) and other European risk assessment bodies, it may be invited to address questions on the toxicity and eco-toxicity of chemical, biochemical and biological compounds whose use may have harmful consequences for human health and the environment. In addition, the Committee will address questions relating to methodological aspects of the assessment of health and environmental risks of chemicals (including mixtures) for providing sound and consistent advice in its areas of competence and to contribute to relevant issues in close cooperation with other European agencies.

For further information on the SCHER, see:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/environmental_risks/index_en.htm 

3. Background to the SCHER opinion

The Opinion on  "Mercury in Certain Energy-saving Light Bulbs", was adopted by the SCHER on 18 May 2010.

4. Specific questions asked by the European Commission to the SCHER

The SCHER was asked in its  "Mercury in Certain Energy-saving Light Bulbs" to assess the following, in the light of current scientific data and knowledge:

  1. The possible health risks to consumers, from the mercury released from accidental breakage of CFLs. In doing so, the SCHER is asked to consider risks to certain vulnerable groups of population such as children or pregnant women;
  2. The potential risks to human health and environment of the alternatives available to reduce, eliminate or substitute the mercury in CFLs, taking into account the technical and scientific assessment from Öko-Institut and Fraunhofer IZM (2009);
  3. The risk to the environment from the mercury liberated upon disposal of CFLs, taking into account the of 5 mg mercury per CFL, and the requirements for separate collection of the CFLs and for removal of the mercury from the collected CFLs. Would the risk be significantly reduced by strengthening these requirements?
  4. Weigh the risks identified in A), B) and C) against the reduction of mercury emissions from coal-based power plants due to the lower electricity consumption of CFLs compared to conventional household lamps. Incorporate and consider the potential health risks from mercury when CFLs are broken, accidentally in the household or after disposal, into the life cycle analysis of CFLs, taking into account the reduction of human health and environment risks resulting from the potential reduction in mercury emissions from coalbased power plants and the reduction of the emission of other pollutants due to the lower electricity consumption of CFLs compared to conventional household lamps.

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