Schools urged to choose mercury-free LED lights

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The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition is urging the nation’s schools to make use of light emitting diode (LED) lights, which do not pose a mercury hazard.

As part of its back-to-school campaign for chemical safety and zero waste, the group encouraged schools to procure and install energy-efficient LED lights, which, unlike fluorescent lamps, do not discharge toxic mercury vapors when they break.

To raise awareness on the availability of mercury-free lights in the market, the EcoWaste Coalition conducted test buys last July 24 targeting LED light dealers at shopping centers located in Binondo and Tondo, Manila.

LED lights of various brands, types and wattages were obtained from retailers at 11/88, 168, 698, 999, Divisoria, Dragon 8 and Tutuban shopping malls.  The prices of the samples vary and can be as low as P35 depending on the brand, type and wattage.

Out of the 31 products purchased representing 30 brands, 12 were found to lack Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) sticker or the Philippine Standard (PS) mark as required by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).  LED lamps that have been tested and verified for their quality and safety will carry an ICC sticker and/or PS mark.

“It is apparent that not all mercury-free LED lights in the market are the same, so it is important for consumers to select quality and reliable products with valid ICC stickers or PS marks,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.   

The EcoWaste Coalition has already notified the DTI through the Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) about the results of its market investigation.  It specifically requested the DTI-BPS to check on the validity of the PS marks found on 19 of the samples purchased.

DTI Administrative Order 18-02 adopting the standard for self-ballasted LED lamps for general lighting services requires manufacturers or importers of such lighting products to secure an ICC or a PS license prior to their distribution and sale.

Test parameters for LED lights applying for ICC or PS include marking completeness, legibility, and durability; interchangeability; protection against accidental contact with live parts; insulation resistance and electric strength test; mechanical strength test (torsion resistance); and cap temperature rise.

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