Analysis of fluorescent lamp survey results implemented in the provinces of the Republic of Armenia

From December 25, 2019 to April 30, 2020 the “Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment” (AWHHE) NGO carried out a survey of fluorescent lamps in Armenia, including the city of Yerevan and the following towns of 8 provinces: Masis and Artashat (Ararat province), Armavir and Echmiadzin (Armavir province), Aparan and Ashtarak (Aragatsotn province), Gyumri (Shirak province), Sevan (Gegharkunik province), Abovyan and Hrazdan (Kotayk province), Dilijan (Tavush province) and Yeghegnadzor (Vayots Dzor province). The survey was supported by the “Environmental Monitoring and Information Center” SNCO of the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Armenia

A total of 1112 lamps were surveyed. The survey showed that light emitting diode (LED) lamps were predominant in the stores of the city of Yerevan, whereas the incandescent lamps (IL) were available in small quantities. As for mercury–containing fluorescent lamps (FL), they were on sale in much smaller quantities.

   

Mercury free LED lamps

Mercury–containing compact fluorescent lamps (CFL)

In the shops of the target cities of the selected provinces, the LED and incandescent lamps were available almost in the same quantity. The number of mercury-containing fluorescent lamps decreased in a number of points of sale. There was a large quantity of such lamps only in 4 points of sale. This was mainly due to a wide range of lamps.

Thus, 36 (88%) out of 41 stores surveyed had mercury-free LED lamps on sale, 31 stores (76%) had mercury-free incandescent lamps and 22 stores (54%) had mercury-containing fluorescent lamps.

It should be noted that there were shops where the fluorescent lamps were available in small quantities. This is because the import of such lamps was stopped and the sale was carried out at discounted prices.

More fluorescent lamps were available in specialized lamp stores in the “Shinarar Market” building material store in Masis, in “LED lamps” store in Armavir, and in the building material store of Gyumri.

     

OUQI lighting, CFL, 125 W, E27, 3U, 8000 hours, 2600 AMD, made in China

ALITE, FL, 250W, E27, Elliptical, 1 year warranty, 3-year lifespan, 1800 AMD, made in China

CTORCH Economic energy saver, FL, 32W, E27, 3U, Reflector, 6- year lifespan, 8000 hours, 1100 AMD, made in China

During the survey of lamp brands, it turned out that different types of lamps from about 137 brands are imported to Armenia: mercury-containing fluorescent lamps, mercury-free light emitting diode lamps, and mercury-free incandescent lamps.

The survey showed, that  mercury-containing fluorescent lamps were produced under 40 brands accounting for about 29% of the lamps surveyed; mercury-free LED lamps were produced under 86 brands accounting for about 63% of the lamps surveyed. There were fewer brands of incandescent lamps. This shows that it is easy to switch to the sale of lamps that are produced using new and safe technologies.

In the stores, you can see different types of lamps under the same brand. It should be noted that only fluorescent lamps are banned to be imported.

For example, three types of lamps: fluorescent, LED and incandescent were available under the brands KOSMOS, Opouqi Lighting, OSRAM, PHILIPS.

 

     

PHILIPS GENIE CFL-11W-3U-E14

PHILIPS LED 5W G45  E27

PHILIPS INC 40W C35 E14

   

PHILIPS INC 40W

E14

PHILIPS INC 60W Reflector E14

PHILIPS LED 7W A60  E27

 

Fluorescent and LED lamps were available under the brands CTORCH, EGLO, General Lighting, Supra and Tersen.

     

CTORCH CFL

11W Spiral E14

CTORCH LED Bulb-Polaris

12W A60 E27

CTORCH LED T-Bulb

60 W E27

 

Fluorescent and incandescent lamps were available under the brands Borsan, Camelion, Emkay.

There were LED and incandescent lamps under the brands KlAUS, LEUCI, Lisma, LUCIO, NAVIGATOR, START and Zenit.

The most common brands of mercury-containing fluorescent lamps were CTORCH, Economic CTORCH, TORCH Energoeconomic, Energy saving lamp and OSRAM.

The fluorescent lamps under the CTORCH, Economic CTORCH, TORCH Energoeconomic, Economic Energy Saving, Energy Saving Lamp and Energy Saving System brands are the lamps of different generations produced by the same company, which have undergone many changes or received new technological solutions in a certain period.

In the past, linear tubular fluorescent lamps, such as the Tinko brand lamps were used to illuminate large halls and classrooms, but now mercury-free LED lamps are available: LED Diffuser Fixture, AD NEXT for classroom, T5 LED Lighting Fixture, T8, IN HOME:

Examining the origin of the lamps, it turned out that almost all three types of lamps were made in China.

The country of origin of fluorescent lamps is China. It is worth noting that LED fluorescent lamps under the OSRAM brand are made in China, and incandescent lamps of that brand are produced in France. The fluorescent lamps of the LEXPLUS Energy Saving brand are made in Poland, the manufacturer of the General Electric Green lamps is a Hungarian company, but the lamps are made in China, and the manufacturer of the Radium Ralux Rapid lamps is a German company, but they are also made in China.

While studying the prices of fluorescent lamps, it turned out that the prices of fluorescent lamps for household use range from 470 AMD to 4200 AMD, and those for the hall – from 4500 AMD to 9000 AMD.

Pricing is influenced by the design, the wattage of the lamp, the type of a bulb, the costs of production by the manufacturer, the costs of import incurred by the importer and the costs incurred by the selling organization.

Mercury-containing fluorescent lamps for street lighting were available in stores in a small quantity of ellipsoidal lamps with a glass bulb under the following brands: SiRaium (250 Watts – 1400 AMD), Emkay (250 Watts – 1350 AMD), and Alite (250 Watts – 1800 AMD).

   

SiRaium

Elipsodial, E27, 1400 AMD

Emkay

Elipsodial, E27, 1350 AMD

 

The reduction of the price of these fluorescent lamps was conditioned by the fact that they were taken off the Armenian market. Therefore, discounts were applied to the remaining lamps.

The survey of the fluorescent lamps showed that the manufacturer has provided a warranty for fluorescent lamps from 1 to 3 years.

The survey showed that information on a warranty was available on the batch of the same brand purchased earlier, whereas it was not available on the other batch (for example, in case of CTORCH compact fluorescent lamps). Although the labels of some fluorescent lamps contain a warranty provided by the manufacturer, currently this type of lamps are mainly not provided with a warranty by the points of sale.

The survey of fluorescent lamps showed that the information on the lifespan is indicated on the package by hours or years.

For example, the lamps under the Global, LEXPLUS Energy Saving brands have a lifespan of 6000 hours; the lamps under the Borsan, CTORCH, Economic CTORCH, TORCH Energoeconomic, Energy saving lamp, OSRAM spiral, ouqi Lighting, Tersen brands – 8000 hours; the lamps under the Camelion, EGLO, General Electric Green / GE, OSRAM Reflector, Panasonic, Radium RaluxR Rapid, Supra brands – 10000 hours; the lamps under the PHILIPS brand – 15000 hours; and under the IDEAL LUX brand – 25000 hours.

It should be taken into account that although the import of fluorescent lamps is banned, some importing companies have already transferred money to the manufacturing companies and are waiting for the delivery of products. There are companies that still have some quantity of fluorescent lamps in warehouses and outlets. Some consumers have bought and kept the fluorescent lamps at home, which, if properly used, will serve within the warranted service life indicated on the lamp package. This should be taken into account when calculating the elimination period of fluorescent lamps after the ban.

As for the control of the quantity of lamps in the shops or in the warehouses of the importing company, it is necessary to register the number of fluorescent lamps, to find out with current control whether new quantities are going to be purchased or not. Such a function is authorized to be performed by the Market Surveillance Inspection Body of the RA Ministry of Economy.

The survey showed that the energy efficiency class of fluorescent lamps was indicated on the packages of lamps.

The modern energy saving or fluorescent lamps fall into the energy efficiency classes “A” and “B”.

Hazards of fluorescent lamps

Fluorescent lamps contain mercury vapors, which harm the human health in case the lamp is broken and neutralization measures are not taken in a timely manner.

Another danger is due to the spectrum of ultraviolet rays emitted by fluorescent lamps, which can cause skin inflammation (dermatitis), inflammation of the mucous membrane of the eye (cataract), tumor formation.

The table below shows the mercury content in the lamps. Information was taken from the labels of the lamps.

One of the reasons for the release of mercury vapor is the crack occurring between the tube and the base of the lamp when you hold the glass bulb and exert force to twist the lamp to replace it with a new one.

Another reason is that the residents do not hand over the lamps that have become unfit for use to the relevant bodies for neutralization, but keep them in their basements. Sometimes people accidentally touch them, causing cracks on the bulb, due to which mercury is released in a closed area.

The AWHHE NGO has previously reported accumulations of such lamps in some hospitals and educational institutions. The employees of these institutions, realizing the potential risks of lamps, did not remove them with the municipal garbage. However, as the lamps were kept in humid conditions, and the employees had to move the containers with lamps several times, small cracks appeared on the bulbs, which led to the release of mercury vapor into an enclosed space.

In case a lamp is broken indoors, the concentration level of mercury vapor after some time becomes higher the maximum allowable concentration, which is dangerous for human health. When inhaled, mercury vapors easily pass into the lungs through the respiratory system, and then they penetrate into the brain through blood and cause poisoning.

The immediate symptoms of poisoning include headache, weakness, tiredness, memory loss, and dizziness.

In case someone accidentally hits the glass bulb of the lamp, the luminophore can be detached from the wall of the glass bulb, because of which UV rays can penetrate the room. Their long-term effect will lead to inflammation of the skin (dermatitis), inflammation of the mucous membrane of the eye (cataract) and tumor formation.

Compact fluorescent lamps contain from 1 mg to 5 mg of mercury, and tubular fluorescent lamps contain 5 mg of mercury.

You can get more detailed information about fluorescent lamps from the following sources:

What to do when the fluorescent lamp has become unfit for use

With the help of the relevant bodies operating in the Republic of Armenia, for example, through the chemical safety officers of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, it is necessary to organize the collection of unusable lamps from the residents, transport them in special containers to the neutralization facility of hazardous substances and utilize the luminophore, the damaged glass of the lamp, keep the fragments in hermetically sealed containers (mercury should be kept in lead containers). The components of the lamp should be stored in separate storage units, taking into account the hazard level.

How to utilize and neutralize the lamps that are unfit for use

There are devices working under special technology, such as “Ecotrom-2U”, which can utilize mercury-containing fluorescent lamps. The instructions for use of a fluorescent lamp state that such lamps must be used in accordance with the law of the country of sale.