Compact Fluorescent Lamps and EMF emissions

By Katharina Gustavs, Building Biology Environmental Consultant (IBN) Translator German/English (STIBC)

Just recently, I translated an article on compact fluorescent lamps and their EMF emissions by Wolfgang Maes, the initiator of the Building Biology Standard. Take a look at the many oscilloscope graphs and spectrum analyses. The huge harmonic distortions and high flicker percentages speak for themselves.

The German branch of the Friends of the Earth (BUND), one of the largest environmental organizations in Germany, issued a background paper on compact fluorescent lamps in 2009 when the incandescent lamp was banned in Europe. The BUND demands that lighting should be safe both for the environment as well as human health.

Their recommendations for exposure limits apply not only to compact fluorescent lamps but all lamp types. Any lamp that cannot meet the TCO limit (VLF: 1 V/m and ELF: 10 V/m at 30 cm) should be taken from the market. And by 2015 lamps should stay below the target threshold of 0.2 V/m in the VLF range. For lamps used close to the body, the BUND suggests a precautionary value of 0.02 V/m. I fully support these recommendations.

Just for the record, Health Canada released data on EMF emissions of CFLs this year. The details on the testing procedures have not been released yet. But for the kHz range (VLF), the worst-case CFL is given with 126 V/m at 20 cm. This is only 45% of the Safety Code 6 exposure limit of 280 V/m, but it is 45% above the ICNIRP exposure limit of 87 V/m. Converting the measurements to a 30-cm distance, the CFL emission level is 56 times higher than the TCO limit of 1 V/m recommended by the Swedish standard on low-emission computer monitors.

For more details on CFL reports by governments (UK, Switzerland), check out my comments here.
More information available here.

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Rainbow Consulting 5237 Mt. Matheson Rd. Sooke BC V9Z 1C4 Canada E-mail: info@buildingbiology.ca Fax: 250-642-2785 Phone: 250-642-2774 www.buildingbiology.ca


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