Fluorescent Light Bulbs: Dark Ages in Perspective


As you know the EU is phasing out traditional incandescent light bulbs in order to “save energy and the climate”. Consumers are obliged to successively replace the simple and cheap incandescent lamps once invented by Thomas Alva Edison by relatively complex and expensive fluorescent lamps with electronic stuff. Perhaps you do not know that EU Commission’s decision was less guided by scientific or ecological concerns than by the lobbying of manufacturers who claimed that “eco-friendly” light bulbs can save up to € 190 per year.  Is this for real?

German green consumer magazine “Öko-Test” compared performances of 16 different brands of fluorescent lamps with those of traditional bulbs in last November for a second time. The results were disappointing. Less than one third of the tested warm-white energy savers performed satisfactory. Only one model (from General Electric) was classified just “good enough”. Only four models produced light comparable to a traditional 60 Watt bulb. An expensive Swiss model delivered only 34 percent of the requested luminosity. The “eco-friendly” lamps longevity often remains well below the promised 6,000 hours. Over and above the fluorescent light is of very bad quality compared to incandescent light. Its colour is “unnatural”. High frequent flickering is causing headache and other health problems. All fluorescent lamps contain legally up to 5 milligrams of mercury which is a strong neurotoxin. This resembles schizophrenia, as the EU at the same time has banned quicksilver in thermometers for health reasons. Thus, EU’s decision to phase out incandescent light is perhaps announcing the end of the enlightenment. Arbitrariness is replacing sound scientific assessment of benefits and risks.


About the Author: Edgar Gaertner