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January 08, 2008

Let Your Eyes Adjust and Bathe In the Radiance

Just as the UK is finalising plans to eliminate incandescent lightbulbs by 2011, new reports indicate that compact fluorescents may pose health risks for consumers. So far, a few different health problems have been identified for people with special sensitivities including migranes and skin problems, and for unsafe disposal leading to mercury poisoning. Most recently, the President of the British Association of Dermatologists announced:

'Photosensitive eruptions range from disabling eczema-like reactions, to light sensitivities that can lead to skin cancer. It is essential that such patients are able to protect themselves from specific wavelengths of light emitted by fluorescent bulbs, especially as they are often trapped indoors because they can't venture out in natural sunlight.'

Of course, anyone who has read Glenn Reynolds' years-long experimentation with compact fluorescents knows that it might take some trial and error to find a bulb with an intensity and spectrum that doesn't bother you. I have some and they work great and don't seem to set off any migraines (with which I am occasionally afflicted), although one of them has burned out already. I'm going to assume that one was defective.

What's so interesting in the case of bulb-pushers is that the same people who told us that long tube fluorescents in office buildings and public schools were hurting us have decided that compact fluorescents are okay for use in the home. I admit, it's a new technology, but that seems to be a reason for more observation, not bulb bans.

This post on the subject from Hippyshopper (yes, that's a real consumer website) is not reassuring:

But how seriously should we take these scare stories? I'm with the the Energy Saving Trust on this one, who argue that we should not let the concerns overshadow the fact that these bulbs are far better for the environment, and that the technology is improving all the time.

Ah, their priorities are now clear to me.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 03:41 AM

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