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Parliamentary questions
10 May 2012
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
David Martin (S&D)

 Subject: EU citizens who need incandescent light bulbs for health reasons

The Standing Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCEHNIR) stated in its report of 19 March 2012 on ‘Health Effects of Artificial Light’ that some EU citizens are exceptionally sensitive to UV/blue light exposure. The report adds that more research is needed to examine the serious concerns raised by patient groups regarding the safety of all currently available forms of low energy lighting. A paper is now about to be published in a peer-reviewed journal refuting a part of the evidence on which the committee relied when claiming that energy saving bulbs are safe to use.

In the UK, the Spectrum Alliance of charities and support groups estimates that the number of citizens affected is 2 million in the UK alone. It believes that the high level of blue light and the spectral distribution of low energy lights may form the main cause of many of the problems. This would make it impossible for any of the current forms of low-energy lighting to meet the health requirements of those affected. There are other potential causes, such as high-frequency flicker and radio frequency emissions, that have not as yet been fully researched. The same source adds that it has often been suggested that envelope CFLs or LEDs may be a suitable substitute. A double envelope only delays the inevitable effects. LED lighting, although an improvement on CFLs, has both an erratic spectral pattern and a high level of blue light. LEDs also have various issues related to radio frequency emission and high frequency flicker. This is true of the latest soft white LEDs experimented with in September 2011.

1. In view of the SCENIHR report published in March 2012 acknowledging that there are major gaps in research on the health effects of low energy lighting, will the Commission work to create an exemption from the ban on incandescent lighting for those with specific medical needs?

2. What representations has the UK Government made to the Commission on obtaining such an exemption?

 OJ C 193 E, 04/07/2013
Last updated: 5 June 2012Legal notice