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Monday, April 22, 2013

A light Bulb Moment- what you need to know about compact fluorescent lighting

Earth day is celebrated around the world on April 22. A day when we are asked to appreciate our environment, become aware of the issues that threaten it and its survival.
Ways to celebrate and protect our earth are often planned in cities and small towns around the globe. Some turn off their lights for an hour in the evening so to conserve energy. Others go around their neighbourhoods and pick up garbage.
I for one will be doing both of these, but what I have learned in the past few months about light bulbs has given me pause and question my decision to help conserve energy.
A few years ago it was advertised that the new compact fluorescent bulbs were the most energy efficient blubs and would last 10 times longer than the older incandescent bulbs. Compared to incandescent, the compact fluorescent bulbs stayed cooler and used one- fifth the power than incandescent bulbs did.
Over the years I have changed most of my light bulbs to compact fluorescent, despite the higher price point, as I thought I was saving energy and helping the planet.
What I have since learned is that compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL’s) come with a host of health issues that many consumers are not aware of.
Firstly, they contain mercury, so if the bulb breaks, be careful not to inhale the mercury fumes and take care when disposing of the broken pieces. I was unaware that these bulbs require special disposal and cannot be thrown out with your regular trash.
Both ultra violet radiation and electromagnetic radiation comes from these bulbs and many can suffer ill health from their light bulbs and not even know it.
Common symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches, migraines, memory loss, heart- rate changes, skin rashes, auto immune conditions and even cancer can be caused by the type of light bulb you are using in your home.
Epileptics have reported increased seizures from radio waves and since all CFL’s produce radio waves it is important for people to be informed of these issues.
Perhaps the compact fluorescent light bulbs should come with a warning on their label just as cigarettes do?
So this earth day I will certainly turn off my lights and read by candle light for an hour or so, but when I turn back on my lights I will be sure that all my lamps have the old fashioned incandescent bulbs in them.

Happy Earth Day!
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Shirley Plant is the author of Finally... Food I Can Eat, a dietary guide and cookbook for people with food allergies. Shirley also offers dietary consulting and menu planning via Delicious Alternatives
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  1. As far as I know, the UV is easily managed with a piece of regular glass in front of the bulb. Halogens give off UV as well, and are frequently provided with UV filters in luminaires.
    All energy sources can be said to give off electromagnetic radiation. A regular oven gives off electromagnetic radiation - thats what cooks your food. A microwave also does, though of a different type. Electromagnetic radiation is just a generic term for any energy that travels without the need of a medium like air or water. All light is EMR. So are microwaves, gamma rays, x-rays, cosmic rays, etc.
    I would be interested to know what kind of troublesome EMR the CFL bulbs give off, or is it just light?

    1. Thanks for commenting Lyndon and Phi- Yes you are right many sources give off EMF's. I do believe it is the total load that affects a lot of people. In my case I got rid of a few things in my house as my migraines were very bad and when I eliminated these sources my migraines got better. I got rid of our wifi, our CFL light bulbs and our portable phone. My girlfriend has Lupus and she was getting a rash on her face in the evening- She couldn't figure it out as she was in bed reading for an hour or so each night. A very close beside lamp. Once she changed the lightbulb, her rash stopped appearing. Here is a link to an interesting documentary on CFL's