By Patricia Daukantas
Starting today (September 1), Thomas Edison’s most famous invention has been banned in most of Europe.
European Union countries have halted the sale of incandescent light bulbs for household use in favor of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). (Halogen bulbs, though they are less energy-efficient than CFLs, are not included in the ban.)
In recent weeks, the impending prohibition has spurred some consumers to stockpile the incandescent bulbs, although stores are allowed to sell off their remaining stock. Some critics also charge that light-sensitive people, or persons with certain medical conditions, react poorly to the emission from CFLs. According to one British press report, some families say they will exploit a loophole in the new law that allows specialized industrial uses of incandescent bulbs and try to get the bulbs from those suppliers.
In the United States, new energy-efficiency rules for light bulbs will go into effect in 2012. However, if researchers can boost the efficiency of incandescent lamps sufficiently by then, the bulbs won’t become extinct in Edison’s native land. “Blackening” tungsten lamp filaments with laser light, as demonstrated by University of Rochester (New York, U.S.A.) researchers, may increase the efficiency of incandescent bulbs.