I was telling my wife today, that I would like to replace a good 75% or
more of our light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs to save on energy.
Her immediate response was, "I have heard that fluorescent lights are
bad for you". Is there any truth to that? Skin Cancer, etc....
Not that I know of, though people believe all sorts of things. The
light can be unpleasant, but nowadays there are full spectrum types
with more pleasing light quality. It's that beautiful ole sunshine
that is the cancer risk- though mostly if you get sunburned, excessive
exposure- they're now finding that some exposure is good for you,
produces Vitamin D3, which strengthens your bones, and seems to prevent
cancers. It's just like the older generations told us, sunshine and
fresh air...and everything in moderation.
There are billions of fluorescent bulbs used around the world. It is
suspected that fluorescent bulbs can cause skin cancer as much as the
sun when used in a tanning bed.
Speaking of fluorescent lamps, I saw on TV yesterday that someone had
invented a dimmer for the usual office lamps. It contains a computer
chip and ballast that replaces the original ballast and causes the lamp
to flicker before reaching the full brightness in the start up. It is
dimmed the same as an incandescent lamp but with a dimmer switch which
adjusts the time of shut off in the start up. The flickering is
imperceptible at all settings. It is supposed to have energy savings of
at least 50% (dimming lights during the day and at night in unused
offices, corridors, stairwells, etc.)
No existing lamps have to be replaced, only the ballast.
There are fluorescent bulbs and there are fluorescent bulbs. Most nominal white
light bulbs do not emit any significant UV radiation and are safe. Specialty
like tanning or "black light" emit UV and should be used with caution..
The bulbs contain mercury, however, the ones with the green ends have less
than the older ones.
Some people, myself included, are induced to have a migraine headache when
subjected to the slight "imperceptible" flicker of some fluorescent lights.
I've never had a problem with the new screw in type bulbs that replace
regular incandescent bulbs but the big tubes in stores were a problem.
The headaches and dizziness/nausea that these lamps induce in some
people is a result of the 60HZ flicker that the old analog ballasts
The screw in replacement bulbs all use a digital ballast that runs the
lamp at 10,000HZ or higher. This takes the oscillation out of the
visual flicker range for almost everyone.
The 4 foot and 8 foot lamps seen in commercial settings have
historically been an analog ballast. These are changing over slowly to
digital electronic ballasts as the old analog ballasts fail (and its
getting difficult to find a supply of analog ballasts). But given that
the lifetime of a typical ballast is on the order of 15 years, it will
take many more years before all these are replaced.
Color spectrum of hte light has also been an issue. Those commercial
lamps make everything look slightly green and that makes us uneasy.
The new lmaps, screw in and those designed for use with digital ballasts
have improved color output, some event hat rival the BEST of
Even flicker from fluorescent lighting is unlikely with the new compact
fluorescent lamps (screw-in types) since they operate with high-frequency
ballasts instead of the older 60 Hz types. New fixtures with 4 foot and 8
foot tubes are also likely to come with high-frequency electronic ballasts
Fluorescent lighting has been used now since 1938. There have been no
reports of any particular health problems. There is minimal UV output
(similar to incandescent lamps and less UV than halogen incandescent lamps
with no shielding).
While some people don't like fluorescent lighting -- usually because of
color -- others prefer it since it tends to be less glaring that bright
Flicker can be an issue with older lighting systems that are driven by
standard magnetic core ballasts and, of course, the problem has become
increasingly more troublesome as computer monitors become largely
ubiquitous (and in particular if the screen refresh rate is set to
just 60 Hz). Of course, the glare from the cheap prismatic lenses
only makes the visual discomfort that much worse.
However, the lighting systems in virtually all commercial space built
(or refurbished) in the past fifteen or twenty years employ the newer,
thinner, T8 or T5 style lamps controlled by electronic ballasts.
These ballasts operate at 20,000 Hz or higher, so flicker is no longer
present. And, thankfully, in good office environments, light is
either bounced off the ceiling (indirect) or the fixtures incorporate
specular parabolic louvers; in either case, glare is vastly reduced or
eliminated altogether, and so too any complaints of headaches or
On Mon, 10 Apr 2006 02:32:56 GMT, "ameijers"
It might be bad for you to cross your wife on this one.
However, Skin cancer, No. I can answer this one as a 45 year survivor
of skin cancer when they gave me 10% of living 5 years. I have had it 12
times and while sun exposure has been my primary (but not only) source,
fluorescent lights are not a problem. Tanning lights on the other hand are.
There is a real problem for a small percentage of people who are
sensitive to the 60 cycle flicker of the lamps. Ask your wife what she
heard. Or maybe just let it be and tell her you appreciate her concern and
that you love her and don't want anything to hurt her, even if it is remote.
Trust me, this one is worth a home made apple pie and more.
Not in the sense that you mean. The flicker is
highly annoying and irritating to some people;
others never notice the flicker. Many
fluorescents put out a band of green and that can
have adverse physiological effects. So the answer
is it depends on the individual and it depends on
the light spectrum of the bulbs.
Good question! OTOH, your statement seems to
indicate your question is rhetorical and you don't
believe there is any.
I suggest that you survey physiology journals for
colored light--physiological studies.. Might want
to look into human psychology studies also.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.