Monday, July 23, 2012

Harmful UV Radiation for Humans from Energy Efficient, Environmentally Friendly CFL Bulbs


Researchers from Stony Brook University and New York State Stem Cell Science found the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs emitting harmful UV lights that can cause skin damages.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, and the result is similar to the 2008 European study.

These CFL bulbs, said to be energy-efficient and environmentally friendly according to the proponents, have been federally mandated in the US to completely replace incandescent light bulbs.

From Daily Caller (7/23/2012; emphasis is mine):

Energy-efficient CFL bulbs cause skin damage, say researchers

New research funded by the National Science Foundation has scientists warning consumers about the potentially harmful effects energy-saving CFL light bulbs can have on skin.

The warning comes based on a study conducted by Stony Brook University and New York State Stem Cell Science — published in the June issue of Photochemistry and Photobiology — which looked at whether and how the invisible UV rays CFL bulbs emit affect the skin.

Based on the research, scientists concluded that CFL light bulbs can be harmful to healthy skin cells.

“Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation,” said lead researcher Miriam Rafailovich, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stony Brook University, in New York, in a statement. “Skin cell damage was further enhanced when low dosages of TiO2 nanoparticles were introduced to the skin cells prior to exposure.”

According to Rafailovich, with or without TiO2 (a chemical found in sunblock), incandescent bulbs of the same light intensity had zero effects on healthy skin.

The scientists found that cracks in the CFL bulbs phosphor coatings yielded significant levels of UVC and UVA in all of the bulbs — purchased in different locations across two counties — they examined.

With high levels of ultraviolet radiation present, the researchers delved into how the exposure affected the skin. According to the findings, skin damage from exposure to CFLs was consistent with harm caused by ultraviolet radiation.

“Despite their large energy savings, consumers should be careful when using compact fluorescent light bulbs,” said Rafailovich. “Our research shows that it is best to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover.”

The research was inspired by a similar 2008 European study conducted by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks which found a potential for skin damage and suggested the use of double-enveloped bulbs as a mitigation tool.

CFLs have been the source of political rumblings since 2007 when Congress approved new energy standards that would have started to phase out the traditional incandescent light bulb in favor of the energy-efficient CFL bulb this year. In December, Congress offered a provision to prevent the Department of Energy from enforcing the standards for nine months. The regulation is still on the books.

The restriction on consumer choice has represented a political battle cry for Tea Partiers and conservatives alike who view the regulation as an infringement on individual liberty. Environmentalists and CFL proponents argue the bulbs are environmentally friendly and economically efficient.


How a mercury-filled bulb could be environmentally friendly remains a mystery to me. As to energy efficiency, as far as my personal experience goes, they keep dying on me prematurely so I wouldn't know how efficient it could be.

12 comments:

Maju said...

"How a mercury-filled bulb could be environmentally friendly remains a mystery to me".

Me too. It spends less energy but light bulb energy consumption was never the main issue at all: heaters, air conditioners, freezers, industrial consumption, etc. are the real problem.

But some politicians decided to divert the energy consumption problem to the citizens instead of solving it.

Hélios said...

I kept a stock of incandescent light bulbs before it was not sold anymore. Especially for bedroom and near computer, places where we are for a long time.
Some people sell their incandescent bulbs to buy the new ones, stupid decision...We bought some this way.

It seems most of the new government laws are to make people sick.

Anonymous said...

One step forward, two steps back. Government at work.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to go off topic, but when viewing this site on an iPad there is now a horrible banner at the bottom of the screen. I don't want to mention the name of the jerks behind the ad, as that woud be even more advertising for them!

I just wanted to give yo a heads-up.

Anonymous said...

i got a woodslamp (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood%27s_lamp#Clinical_use) in my bedroom and the walls are painted titania white(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium_White): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noxer_block
*sweet dreams*

Anonymous said...

Bravo Hélios.

These CFL bulbs are are much weaker than incandescent ones to switch on and off frequently - the usual way to save energy, and to micro-shudowns of power. The green Khmers gave into that farce.

Anonymous said...

In Germany (and i think all over Europe!) the classic bulbs are phased out year by year because Osram and Philips paid the right politicians to make some "energy saving laws". Fortunately, LEDs are getting better every day and maybe this could turn out to be some kind of good starting impulse for really great led lights. Don't give up hope :-)

Anonymous said...

FYI. CFL is no different from commercial-style fluorescent bulbs (tubes), which have been around for a long time. As with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of technology. However, incandescent bulbs are highly inefficient at producing light, and hence the intense heat that's generated (which also carries risks as well). CFL must be used properly.

Also, not all UV light is bad. Some of the UV light from the Sun is how people make Vitamin D in their bodies (hence, the Sun is good for health, and should not be avoided as conventional thinking goes). But not sure what kind of UV light is emitted by CFLs.

CFL technology will be replaced by LED soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Why *forbid* incandescent bulbs? If you do not keep it lit a long time a cheap bulb is the cheapest solution (in my place, the entrance and the corridor just after it, for example).
How about forbidding SUVs? or plane travel for tourism?

Maju said...

I'm rather in favor of such prohibitions. But in general I estimate that most of the ecologic print belongs to the state (notably transport, military), industry, industrial farming and wealthy pricks' wasteful lives.

Someone like me uses a small shared apartment (like 10 or 20 m² of actual soil), no car and just some basic electronic appliances. I could use some more, like for example a small orchard, but even with that I'd be always A LOT under the wasteful lifestyle of the 1%, never mind their business.

Anonymous said...

Yet another foolish liberal 'save the earth' experiment shoved down our throats, only to make them look like complete idiots. Again!.

Anonymous said...

For Anonymous above- FYI, "President" George Bush passed the bulb restriction law in the U.S. and he is a big-time criminal fake "conservative" who perenially despised liberals, the Environment, and its advocates!....hmmm.
Don't knock the good guys!...

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