The evils of low-energy light bulbs (CFLs)


Sarah Dacre, who co-ordinates much of the press information about electro-sensitivity for ES UK, sent us some interesting links about low energy light bulbs.

A fact sheet on the h.e.s.e. site details three main health risks they believe are posed by these bulbs. (The h.e.s.e is an independent, international group of scientists, scientific institutions and informed laypeople working together under the premise: Human Ecological Social Economic.)

1. Electromagnetic radiation
While incandescent bulbs emit virtually no radiation, CFLs generate powerful electromagnetic fields up to one metre from the source. There is also evidence that they are a major contributor to dirty electricity (FM May 09).

2. Mercury
CFLs contain 3–5,000 micrograms of mercury yet the safe intake of mercury for the human body is only a few micrograms. Exposure will only happen if the lamp breaks but when it does, even if all the complicated proper precautionary measures are taken, concentrations in the room can remain very high as the mercury is absorbed into textiles, carpets etc.

3. UV radiation.
CFLs emit UV-B and trace of UV-C radiation both of which are harmful to the skin (skin cancer) and the eyes (cataracts).

Other problems with CFLs include flicker (bad for those with migraine or epilepsy), the toxic chemicals contained in the circuitry and external coating of the lamps and a diminished production of the hormone melatonin (implicated in sleeping disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease etc) as a result of the high proportion of blue light that they emit.

For the full fact sheet.

For an article on how thousands of Chinese workers are being made ill manufacturing these bulbs.

Or to stock up on incandescent light bulbs while you still can (they are being phased out right now)

Click for more research reports on electricty and lighting

First Published in July 2009

op of page