Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Child-safe oil lamps are possible! - New burner design could protect children from poisoning

Even after the prohibition of the dangerous coloured and perfumed paraffin-based lamp oils and the development of less dangerous substitutes, accidents involving infants still occur.

The permitted clear and non-perfumed variant of these fuels is being sold in increasing quantities. Unfortunately, even the smallest quantities of these dangerous fuels are sufficient to cause serious lung damage. In these accidents children usually drank from the unsafe oil lamps. Paraffin can easily get into the lungs and cause chemical pneumonia, in the worst case this can be lethal.

However, relatively simple technical measures can ensure a child-safe design for oil lamps so that such accidents can be avoided. Since the manufacturers and distributors of oil lamps have not been active so far, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), in co-operation with the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), has designed a child-safe burner for oil lamps and oil lanterns. The design will be provided to manufacturers and distributors of oil lamps and lanterns free of charge.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and its predecessor institutes have made efforts to co-operate with industry to reduce the risk of poisoning by lamp oil through awareness campaigns and improvements to legal regulations for over ten years. Child-safe catches on the containers, warnings and the prohibition of coloured and perfumed paraffin-based lamp oils brought many improvements. Nevertheless, there is still a risk which cannot be neglected: German paediatric clinics reported about 70 poisonings of children with lamp oil, some of them serious, within the BfR monitoring alone in 2006. Most children drank from unsafe oil lamps or oil lanterns filled with clear and non-perfumed paraffin-based oil. Although a European Standard (DIN EN 14059), which stipulates the safety provisions and test procedures for oil lamps for decorative purposes has been in existence due to the initiatives of BfR since 2003, the manufacturers and distributors have so far neglected to develop and market child-safe oil lamps for the home. Also, very few child-safe oil lamps and lanterns are available for open-air use.

Because of their concern for child health, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) and the BfR, have developed a draft design for a child-safe burner for lamp oils. It is a simple and very inexpensive item, which can be manufactured with little technical effort, and existing oil lamps can be adapted. The burners are designed so that children cannot open this oil lamp and drink from it nor can they get easy access to the wick. BAM, as the responsible authority, is providing this draft design to manufacturers and distributors free of charge via the internet. The industry can convert it into their own marketable products in order to meet the regulations of product safety. The law requires that products may not endanger the health of the consumer when used correctly or in anticipated improper use.

It has to be emphasised in connection with the activities of BAM and BfR that the less dangerous substitutes for lamp oils based on biodiesel, mineral oil or coco oil only make up a small fraction of the oil on sale. After the prohibition of the dangerous coloured and perfumed paraffin-based oils, consumers mostly moved to the permitted clear and non-perfumed paraffin. Therefore the danger remains that children get poisoned by this lamp oil through inappropriate use of unsafe oil lamps.


Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)
Unter den Eichen 87, 12205 Berlin
Dr. Ulrike Rockland, press spokeswoman
Phone: 030 8104-1003, fax: 030 8104-3037
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
Thielallee 88 - 92, 14191 Berlin
Dr. Irene Lukassowitz, press person
Phone: 030 8412-4300, fax: 030 8412-4970
Appendix 1:
Oil lamps in accordance with DIN EN 14059 for open-air use:
Appendix 2:
Design idea for an oil lamp in homes taking into account DIN EN 14059:

Dr. Ulrike Rockland | idw
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years
27.10.2016 | University of California - Los Angeles

nachricht 3-D-printed structures shrink when heated
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>