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Comparison Of The Toxicity Of Incandescent Lamp, Energy Saving Lamp And LED Lamp
- Dec 25, 2017 -

Comparison of the toxicity of incandescent lamp, energy saving lamp and LED lamp


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In order to fulfill the U.S. energy independence and security act and the ecology design instruction, artificial lighting system transition from incandescent bulbs to energy saving lamps (CFL) and LED, this is to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Compared with traditional incandescent bulbs, energy-saving lamps (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) and other new type of light bulb can save 70 ~ 85% of energy consumption, service life is greatly increased, and therefore is regarded as a great energy saving potential of the technology, however, these new bulb design is much more complex than the traditional light bulb, has the potential environmental impact, and consumer electronics.

CFL and LED components contain more metal.

These components have the potential environmental impact of uncertainty, and do special rules need to be made when their working life needs to be scrapped?

In a paper published this month, seong-rinlim and others have published an article on "the potential environmental impact of leds: metal resources, toxic hazardous waste."


They combine three types of bulbs (ordinary incandescent, LED, and energy-saving lamps) in many ways to assess environmental and resource issues.

Energy-saving light consumes more antimony, copper (mainly used for coil and printed circuit board) (printed circuit board and solder), iron, lead, mercury (spiral energy-saving lamps), phosphorus, yttrium (fluorescence) and zinc (protective coating for steel).

LED bulbs need more aluminum (fin), antimony (LED chip), barium, chromium (stainless steel), copper (coil), gallium (LED chip), gold (leds), iron, lead (printed circuit board), phosphorus, silver reflective coating and zinc (protection layer).

Incandescent bulbs are only tungsten (filament) and nickel.

Therefore, it is necessary to recycle the metal from energy saving lamps and LED lamps.

Waste management policies for energy-saving lamps and LED bulbs should include manufacturers' recycling systems or "deposit-refund" systems for discarded bulbs.

In addition, labeling its potential dangers on the product puts it in the right garbage classification and recycling system to avoid throwing it into regular garbage.

Environment design project (DesignfortheEnvironmentProgram, DfE) is the environmental protection agency in 1992 the development of a project, to prevent pollution, and brings to humans and the environment pollution risk.

DfE requires consideration of environmental quality issues during the design process, from material management to recycling and reuse to reduce environmental impact.

The waste toxicity characteristic dissolution procedure (TCLP) is a test method of the epa to simulate the process of entering groundwater through water in a landfill.

The above tests revealed that LED bulbs require gold, silver, antimony and copper, which are two orders of magnitude higher than incandescent bulbs and two to five times higher than energy-saving lamps.


For energy-saving lamps, the material that has a significant impact on resource consumption is copper.

Silver and gold are precious metals, and in the European Union antimony is also listed as a resource crisis material.

Although copper has not yet reached the level of crisis in the United States, the amount of copper used in energy-saving lamps and leds is very high, which is 1-6 orders of magnitude of other metal materials, and the development is also worrying.

The most metal content in LED bulbs is aluminum, barium, chromium, and gallium, which do not significantly contribute to the consumption of total resources.

Here it is important to note that in considering the supply risk, although the gallium in the global reserves estimation is quite large, but it is still considered a could face a crisis of the material, because gallium is only as a byproduct processing of bauxite and zinc ores and retrieval.

In contrast, yttrium, gadolinium and cerium, while also belonging to rare earth elements, are unlikely to become a crisis material, because yttrium and cerium are abundant in the world, and the amount of gadolinium is very small.

If LED and energy-saving lamps continue to replace incandescent bulbs at the current rate, considerable resource consumption will be generated because the supply of gold, silver, antimony and copper is inadequate.

Because gold has low electric thermal impedance, it is mainly used to connect the conductor of the electrode in LED chip.

Silver as an excellent reflective coating material in LED.

Antimony is the core of LED chips.

Copper is the coil used in LED and energy-saving lamps and printed circuit boards.

In the DfE, therefore, the auxiliary components (not the technology itself) is to reform and innovation, in order to reduce the metal content, as in information and communication industry, fiber optic cable to replace copper cable.


Additional examples in the successful DfE of the actual product can be found in the us EPADfE website.

In addition to modifying component technology, recovery techniques and management strategies should also be followed to ensure that precious metals recovered from LED and energy-saving lamps can be recycled.

In the existing federal and California state laws and regulations, through the application and based on the hazard based on life cycle impact assessment methods, assessment of whether these bulbs products can be classified as hazardous waste.

The method based on the life-cycle impact is different from the conventional life-cycle assessment (LCA), which is to quantify the toxicity potential of elements in LCA.

CFLS and leds can be classified as hazardous waste, because the loss of lead have been extremely excessive (132 mg/L respectively with 44 mg/L, and security standards for 5) and high content of copper (111000 mg/kg and 31600 mg/kg, and security standards for 2500), lead (CFL bulb is 3860 mg/kg, safety standards for 1000) and zinc (CFL bulb is 34500 mg/kg, safety standards for 5000), and incandescent bulbs are not dangerous.

Note that the CFL bulb did not consider the bulb mercury vapor, which was not captured during the preparation of the experimental sample.

Compared with incandescent bulbs, energy-saving lamps and LED lamps have high potential for resource depletion and toxicity, mainly due to their high aluminum, copper, gold, lead, silver and zinc.

LED has the highest toxicity potential, mainly due to copper and aluminum, and energy saving lamps, because the main metal is copper.

These results differ from those of potential toxicity indicators (TPI).

The results of TPI show that the highest toxicity of energy saving lamps may be mainly due to zinc and copper, followed by LED with copper.

Incandescent bulbs contain aluminum, copper and nickel, but are low in quantity and have little toxicity.

Energy-saving lamps have the highest human toxicity and ecological toxicity potential, LED secondary.


The human toxicity and ecological toxicity of energy-saving lamps are 2.5 and 1.3 times higher than leds, which are two orders of magnitude.

The relative contribution of each metal element to human toxicity and ecological toxicity was investigated. Zinc and copper were the highest, accounting for 89, 98% and 74-89 per cent respectively.

In combination, the environmental potential effects of energy-saving lamps and LED lights are higher than that of incandescent bulbs 3-26 times and 2-3 times respectively.

Current energy-saving lamps and LED bulb technologies need to be further developed to reduce overall resource consumption and toxicity potential.


A comprehensive assessment of the benefits and costs is considered to be necessary to find alternative materials from the DfE life cycle perspective, minimizing the use of aluminum, copper, gold, lead, silver and zinc.

Another approach is to develop longer life bulbs and LED bulbs, which can reduce the use of new resources and the amount of waste.

In lighting product development, therefore, should follow the conservation and sustainable development policy, in addition to improve the efficiency of energy utilization, also should focus on developing some without affecting their performance and life of the premise, reduce risk and rare metal content of technology.

In terms of recycling, some of the metal in the bulb is very limited.

Therefore, appropriate waste management measures are urgently needed, or through innovative techniques to reduce toxic substances, metal content, or extend the life of light bulbs.


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