HERCA/ Non Medical Sources & Practices/ Information paper on lamps containing small amount of radioactive substances
On 12 June 2014, on the occasion of the 13th meeting of the association HERCA which brings together the Heads of European Radiological protection Competent Authorities, HERCA has approved the document “Information paper on lamps containing small amount of radioactive substances”.
This HERCA information paper is to assist European competent authorities in making regulatory decisions on the storage, use and disposal of lamps containing radioactive substances. It contains summary and referenced information on the technologies involved, the potential radiological hazards, and the regulatory issues. It complements a HERCA interim statement about the regulatory status of small amount of radioactive substances added to lamps  which mentioned that: “An assessment provided by the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) and a draft report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conclude that the impact of using such lamps in normal and accident scenarios is below the exemption levels laid down in the IAEA international basic safety standard and in the European Council Directive 96/29/Euratom. This means that their use presents only a very small [radiological] risk”.
Small amounts of radioactive substances have been added to some lamps to increase light intensity or to provide a starter aid function. Such technologies were introduced by the industry many decades ago into some lamps used in professional environments such as stadia, shop, and office lighting as well as specialised industrial and cinematic applications. However, the market for these lamps is growing rapidly and includes some public uses such as high intensity discharge head lights in cars.
Whilst the quantity of radioactive substances contained in individual lamps is too small to require authorisation by the regulator for the use, the authorisation criteria in European or national legislation can be exceeded for manufacturing, for import or export to or from the EU, for transboundary shipment within Europe, or when many lamps are used, stored, or disposed of together.