Think Twice Before You Buy Energy
Saving Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
has shown that some energy saving compact fluorescent lights
(CFL) can emit dangerous ultraviolet and electromagnetic pollution
at levels that, under certain conditions of use, can result
in exposures higher than guideline levels which cause devasting
health effects on some people.
Besides mercury exposure, the news reports
below detail other threats CFL pose to your health.
A UK Health
Protection Agency is recommending some precautionary measures
for the use of certain types of compact fluorescent light bulbs
(CFLs). The Agency's view is that open (single envelope) CFLs
shown below (#1) should not be used where people are in close
proximity - closer than 30 cm or 1 ft - to the bare light bulb
for over 1 hour a day. The Agency advises that for such situations
open CFLs should be replaced by the encapsulated (double envelope)
type shown below (#2). Alternatively, the lamp should be moved
so that it is at least 30 cm or 1 ft away.
Chief Executive Justin McCracken said, "This is precautionary
advice and people should not be thinking of removing these energy
saving light bulbs from their homes. We are advising people
to avoid using the open light bulbs for prolonged close work
until the problem is sorted out and to use encapsulated bulbs
instead. In other situations where people are not likely to
be very close to the bulbs for any length of time, all types
of compact fluorescent light bulbs are safe to use."
open (single envelope) fluorescent light bulbs have significant
Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) emissions but if people are in very
close proximity to some of them, the exposure to bare skin is
like being outside in direct sunlight. For example, Agency scientists
found that when very close (2 cm, less than 1 inch) to some
open CFLs, the UVR level can be equivalent to that experienced
outside a sunny day in the summer and so some precaution is
warranted. When further away (over 30 cm or 1 ft), the UVR level
is much lower and less than being outside on a sunny day in
winter, which is not a concern.
(double envelope) compact fluorescent light bulbs (#2 in image
above), which look similar to traditional domestic light bulbs,
do not emit significant amounts of UVR. The larger long tube
"strip lighting" design fluorescent lights, commonly
used in offices, workplaces and homes for many years, can also
be used on ceilings without any special precautionary measures.
advice from the Agency is interim advice. The Agency's study
has stimulated research into the problem by others and the Agency
may issue further advice when more information is available.
The Agency's work could influence European legislation.
to UVR can cause particular problems for people suffering from
some medical conditions, including Lupus. The Agency, Government
and the lighting industry have met with patient groups to give
advice on the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs and the
availability of new technologies for low energy lighting. In
addition, the Agency's work has been taken into account by an
EC scientific committee looking into the issue of light sensitivity.
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