|By JAN Christlieb, MD PALM STEP ELECTRONICS
In South Africa alone, about 60 million failed fluorescent tubular Iamps are discarded every year. Each tube contains about 20 mg of mercury. Thus, in dumping these Iamps, the country is disposing of about 1. 2 tonnes of mercury annually, as well as substantial quantities of cadmium, Iead, copper, tungsten and a variety of other poisonous and/or polluting metaIs and minerals.
Mercury is not only one of the oldest known industrial poisons but one of the deadliest as well. lt is toxic at very low concentrations, and particularly affects unborn children and babies. Adults having continuous exposure to marginal poisoning with mercury suffer illnesses which can prove fatal. When released into our biosphere, mercury does not degrade, but accumulates - especially in the aguatic food-chain.
Both the Irish Sea and the Great Lakes of Canada are so polluted with mercury that experts advise severe restrictions on the amount of fish from these waters that is safe to eat. Mercury released into the environment finds its way into the underground water systems, and soon reappears in our drinking water. The mercury from only one fluorescent tube can pollute 30,000 litres of water beyond currently recognised safety Limits.
There is increasing concem that so few people seem to take care conceming the disposal of tailed fluorescent tubes. Very often, lamps are broken and disposed of with other rubbish or put into skips. Not only does this endanger those concemed who shall not be endangered by broken glass nor of being poisoned by the chemical components of the lamps such as mercury or cadmium.
Whole lamps and the chemicals released from crushed lamps should be handled and disposed of as required by the Regulations for the Control of Substances hazardous to Iealth (COSHH). The “Duty of Care“ as defined by EC regulations and a recent White Paper makes everyone individually responsible tor the correct disposal ot their own waste.
|Lamps, whether whole or crushed, am ‘hazardous waste“ and may not be included in domestic and commercial waste. Each person who disposes of hazardous waste is required to obtain a receipt to show that the waste will be consigned to a Hazardous Waste Site which is property licensed and operates under the Control of Pollution Act 1974.
In recent years, several companies in the UK have offered devices for crushing lamps and disposing of the chemical contents safely. Two of these have been banned from advertising their products further because the Code to Advertising Practice Committee examined the matter and concluded that these manufacturers‘ claims that their filters would remove mercury and other substances from the debris and drenching to water form their Iamp crushers were spurious. lt is clearly established tat mercury cannot be moved from liquid effluent by any filter known to be on the market. Nor can die mercury be neutralized, for example, by acid, without all the washing water itself having to be treated as poisonous waste.
Although there are continuous developments in lighting science, and new types of light sources come on the market from tine to time, it seems highly likely that the ubiquitous fluorescent tubular lamp 15 going to be with us for many years to come. And, although their life expectancy has increased substantially over the years, there never will be everlasting fluorescent tubular lamps. Because the efficacies (output in Iumens par watt) of modern fluorescent lamps arc much higher than they were some years ago, it is already possible to achieve required lighting conditions with fewer lamps than formerly.
The most environmentally friendly way of dealing with the twin problems of how to economise in the consumption of the planets materials used in lampmaking, and how to limit the potential for pollution in their ultimate disposal, would be simply to make the lamps last as long as possible, so that fewer replacements Iamps arc required over a period.
|This is possible by fitting solid-state circuitry starter canisters to the luminaires in place of conventional starters. Unlike ordinary starter canisters which last about the live of two Iamps, the ÖKO 6 electronic starter from Palm Step Electronics will last the live of the luminaire.
Double Iamp life:
Fitting ÖKO 6 into new fluorescent luminaires, or retrofitting them in existing luminaires, doubles the lift expectancy of the fluorescent Iamps, so that the glass, metals, minerals and other finite resources contained within them can be employed longer before it becomes necessary to replace the lamps.
Furthermore, the fewer the number 01 fluorescent tubes that am used over a period, the smaller will be the amount of energy consumed in the manufacturing of lamps. The user is rewarded for his/her environmentally friendly act of having installed ÖKO 6 by having to buy only halt the number 01 replacement fluorescent tubes that would otherwise be consumed over any period, thereby gaining a substantial economy in the operating cost of the Iighting system.
Mauritius is too small to deal with die problem ot unnecessary waste. We therefore am confident that our electronic starters will play a role in protecting the environment of the island.
In the interests of the country, we would truly appreciate it if you could kindly give us an appointment to meet with your Ministry, so that we can explain the above technology in more detail.