Research Autism Calls for European Ban on Incandescent Bulbs to be Rejected

News Release Date: 16 March 2009

Plans to replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving or halogen ones by 2012 were backed by the European Parliament yesterday, they had until 15 March to oppose it. UK Charity, Research Autism is now urging the ban to be rejected until acceptable alternatives have been tested and made available.

Richard Mills, Research Director at Research Autism says:

"A majority of individuals with autism are known to have a different sensory profile and may be highly sensitive to light frequency. Therefore the plan to ban incandescent light bulbs will be seriously detrimental to this already vulnerable group. It will adversely affect their health; their ability to dealing with day to day life and compound their social exclusion from society.

In fact, it is arguably discriminatory that this ban is even being allowed to proceed knowing the likely adverse consequences and the absence so far of a safe and acceptable alternative. Research Autism is fully supportive of energy conservation but this should be thought through and not be at the expense of people on the autistic spectrum. Until safe products are developed based on good research, the existing bulbs should not be withdrawn."

Dr Jacqui Jackson Trustee for Research Autism and parent of five children on the autism spectrum says:

'It is unacceptable to ban the old style incandescent light bulbs until we can be confident that there are safe, tried and tested alternatives. As a professional in this field and also the mother of children on the autism spectrum the sensory needs of our children are so often ignored or misunderstood.

Quite apart from safety concerns if these low energy bulbs are broken, the response of many children and adults with autism to them can be seriously detrimental. They are unable to tolerate these light frequencies and become distressed and completely unable to function. I have to be very careful in selecting environments that are suitable in terms of lighting and this is becoming more and more difficult.

My experience is not unusual. I am in touch with hundreds of families and individuals who share these concerns. The ban must be delayed. It is yet another obstacle we have to overcome'

Research Autism is the only UK charity that is solely focused on improving the quality of life of those on the autistic spectrum and their families through the origination, sponsorship and funding of research into interventions in autism. The charity exists to initiate, support and disseminate scientific research into the effectiveness of autism treatments.


Notes to Editors:

The next European Parliament plenary session takes place next week, 23-26 March and Gordon Brown will be attending. For the incandescent bulbs issue to be placed on the agenda for this important session, either the Parliament's Environment Committee must call for an all-Parliament vote or 40 signatures from MEP's must be obtained. Some MEP's have already voiced their support for the ban to be rejected.

For any media enquiries please contact: Deepa Korea on 020 86170536 or 07723 606629 or email press@researchautism.net

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