What is the lamp industry initiative about?
The European Lamp Companies Federation (ELC) is currently addressing the need to harmonize national and international regulations for certain lighting products which contain very small amounts of low level radiation emitters to make them high performance. These products are harmless to health and environment In fact, the very low level of ionizing radiation emitted by these lamps for mainly professional applications is less than 1% of natural background radiation.
Which lamps are affected?
Lamps affected are mainly high intensitiy discharge lamps which are typically used in professional applications.
Where are these lamps used?
These high performance lamps are typically used in professional applications such as public lighting, football stadiums, train stations, shopping centers, etc.
Are these lamps safe?
The ionizing radiation dose emitted from these lamps is well below recognized safety limits. To put this into perspective, the radiation dose is less than 1% of the natural radiation that people experience in everyday life.
Independent studies in support of this claim include:
Are these lamps radioactive?
The affected lamps contain small amounts of low level radiation emitters (Krypton-85 or Thorium) The ionizing radiation dose emitted from these lamps is well below recognized safety limits. To put this in perspective, this radiation dose is below 1 percent of the natural radiation that people experience in everyday life.
What is natural radiation and should I be worried about it?
Radiation is a natural phenomenon. We are exposed to this every day of our lives. On average, an individual in Europe is exposed to 2.4 millisievert (mSv) of natural background radiation per year. Approximately 0.35 mSv per year (14%) is obtained through food and water; and the air around us provides radiation of about 0.8 mSv per year (33%). The radiation of all the lamps that contain low level radiation emitters is below 0,01 mSv per year, and therefore marginal compared to the natural background radiation level.
Why is the use of radioactive substances in these lamps required?
The use of these materials (Krypton-85 or Thorium) is technically necessary to make the products high performance (quick start-on/lifetime/energy efficieny etc).
What happens if these lamps break?
An independent study concludes that the lamps involved are harmless to health and environment throughout their lifecycle, even in accident scenarios or under bulk conditions.
Can these lamps be safely recycled?
Yes, independent studies conclude that the lamps involved are harmless to health and environment throughout their lifecycle (including recycling).
If these lamps are safe, why do they need to be regulated?
The argument for exemption from regulations for handling and use of products which contain radiation emitting substances is supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), through the Basic Safety Standards. The framework for exemption is based on the following principles:
- The usage of such materials results in high benefits and is therefore justified; and
- Radiation exposure does not exceed the given safety limit.
A DRAFT IAEA Safety Report confirms that affected lamps meet these criteria, are therefore considered safe throughout their complete lifecycle and can be made available to a global market without any restrictions.
While many authorities acknowledge that these lamps do not require any regulatory control, the national interpretation of the international basic safety standards and the implementation into national regulation are still quite varied.
Why is the lamp industry asking for globally harmonized regulations?
Lighting products using low level radiation emitters are currently subject to a complex set of national and international regulations around the globe, despite the fact that independent studies conclude that these products may well be exempted from regulations. The ELC continues to address the need for globally harmonized regulations emphasizing the exemption possibility.