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Report warns toxicity of energy-saving products


10:10, October 30, 2012

BEIJING - China should increase public awareness of the toxicity in used energy-saving products, according to an investigative report.

The report carried by the Economic Information, an economy news daily under Xinhua, said that 0.5 milligram of mercury, the average amount contained in a used energy-saving fluorescent tube is enough to pollute 180 tonnes of water and surrounding soil.

In 2008, energy-saving lights were included in a national list of hazardous waste. People are aware of their energy-saving function without knowing much about the poisonous dangers, said experts.

Broken energy-saving tubes will lead to seriously excessive levels of mercury content in the air. A human being's nervous centralis will be damaged, once the mercury is in the body.

Jin Min, associate professor with the Beijing-based Renmin University of China, said that using energy-saving lamps has boosted China's energy conservation and emission reduction.

"But the recovery of those lamps has become a glaring problem in handling electronic waste," she added.

The "green lights" project, launched in 2008, has led to the use of 150 million energy-saving lighting products nationwide. This has helped reduce 29 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 290,000 tonnes of sulfur dioxide.

With the life of energy saving lamps being around three years, the 150 million products are entering into retirement.

Industry experts suggest that permanent recovery stations should be set up in communities, enterprises as well as environmental protection organizations. They said that material rewards should be provided for those who hand in used energy-saving tubes.

Producers of energy-saving lights should highlight the potential dangers in commercials, product packaging and sales activities, experts said.

In 2007, China implemented a regulation to control pollution caused by electronic devices, limiting or forbidding the use of toxic matters in products, including lead, mercury and cadmium.

The regulation is only an industry recommendation. The country could look to establish a mandatory standard within the energy-saving lights industry, experts said.

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