by Mike Barrett
Individuals are drawn to compact fluorescent bulbs due to their environmentally-friendly label, but anyone who has really looked into these incandescent alternatives knows of the numerous health and environmental dangers of CFL bulbs.
A recent study sheds light on just one such concern associated with the ‘green’ CFL bulbs, showing how they are capable of actually frying your skin with UVA radiation.
Following a study in Europe examining the effects of CFL bulbs on the skin, researchers from Stony Brook University in New York conducted a similar study to examine the bulbs’ impact on human skin cells. For the study, the researchers purchased CFL bulb from various locations, and then measured the amount of UV radiation emissions. What they found in every single one of the bulbs studied was “significant levels of UVC and UVA” which was a result of cracks that were present in the coating on the bulbs.
After studying the effects of these emissions on human skin cells, they discovered that healthy skin cells experienced the same damage you would find with ultraviolet radiation.
Similar tests were also conducted using incandescent light bulbs of the same intensity along with the implementation of UV-absorbing Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, which are found within many personal care products.
While the incandescent light bulbs had no negative effect on healthy skin cells, the researchers couldn’t say the same for CFL bulbs. Professor Rafailovich recounts:
Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation…Skin cell damage was further enhanced when low dosages of TiO2 nanoparticles were introduced to the skin cells prior to exposure.
Despite their large energy savings, consumers should be careful when using compact fluorescent light bulbs…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.
This, of course, isn’t the only issue with compact fluorescent bulbs. In addition to having a potential negative impact on your skin, these bulbs emit toxic chemicals. In fact, only months after it was found that energy saving fluorescent bulbs release carcinogenic chemicals into the air, a new study has found that these harmful chemicals are continually released from the bulbs over a period of weeks to months.
In addition to releasing these cancer-causing chemicals, which are far beyond the “safe” level set by the EPA, these bulbs also release levels of mercury which also exceed the “safe” levels for humans.