Fluorescent lightbulbs are environmental timebombs

Current forms of lighting technologies to be obsolete with 25 years

Fluorescent lightbulbs, despite being energy efficient, pose significant environmental risks (Getty Images)
Fluorescent lightbulbs, despite being energy efficient, pose significant environmental risks (Getty Images)

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Fluorescent lighting is a ‘doomed’ lighting technology, set to be replaced by more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies, the managing director of Ruud Lighting Arabia has said.

Terming the lighting technology as an ‘environmental time-bomb’, Vic Andrews warned that fluorescent lighting could cause greater problems further down, despite their energy efficiency.

“I think fluorescent is doomed. From a performance point of view, they’re generally okay. [But] what’s happening now is that a lot of markets, Australia for example, have deemed that by the end of 2012, your incandescent light-bulbs are going to be replaced by fluorescent,” he said.

“That’s great from an energy point of view, but what people don’t realise is that they’re a bit of an environmental time-bomb. This is because every fluorescent contains mercury, a fairly high percentage of mercury.”

He explained that this could potentially cause major environmental problems as the mercury posed a serious contamination risk to water supplies should it escape into them.

“All this stuff is going into landfills, so you’ve got over a billion incandescent light-bulbs out there and you’re replacing them with time-bombs. Now, they work very well, but we also need to educate people about handling and replacing them, that’s the first part,” he explained.

Andrews said that he believed LED lighting technology could be a viable replacement despite its higher cost, which he believed would come down in pricing as the technology gained momentum.

“Eventually, more and more companies will go into retrofitting, developing lamps that will replace these (current lighting technology). There is an LED replacement now for an incandescent lamp, the cost is high, but you know, 15-30 years ago, the cost for replacing  incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs was around $7 per fluorescent light bulb, now it’s like $1. So [pricing] is all relative.”

“I think that within 25 years, fluorescent and incandescent will disappear altogether,” he concluded.

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