Several years ago, a push began in Congress to make incandescent light bulbs illegal. The measure was designed to force Americans to use the more energy efficient CFL (compact florescent light bulbs). Supposedly, CFL bulbs use less electricity and last longer. However, I find that I have had to replace some CFL bulbs almost as often as incandescent bulbs. I still have incandescent bulbs that have been in use for many years and still burning brightly.
I, like many consumers, resisted the forced legislation more because of cost more than anything else and I hate it when Congress keeps interfering with the rights of the individual to make decisions for themselves. On average a CFL bulb costs in excess of $1.50 to $2 each whereas incandescent bulbs can run as little as 25¢ each.
Initially, the law to ban the incandescent bulbs was supposed to take effect in January of 2012, starting with 100 watt bulbs. A last minute rider attached to another piece of key legislation that was passed in December of 2011 gave the incandescent bulbs a 9 month stay of execution.
Knowing the legislation was inevitable, major manufactures of light bulbs have already switched their production efforts to CFL bulbs and in many stores you can’t even find incandescent bulbs any longer.
But have you ever wondered just how safe CFL bulbs are?
In 2008, a study was conducted in Europe that found that CFL bulbs do emit UVB and traces of UVC radiation. They concluded that prolonged exposure to CFL bulbs from a fairly close distance could meet or even exceed the workplace limit that was established to preserve employees’ retinal and skin damage.
A more recent study by the New York State Stem Cell Science and Stony Brook University in New York has come up with similar results as the earlier European study. This study focused on finding out if and how bad the UV rays from CFL bulbs affected skin cells. Lead researcher Miriam Rafailovich from Stony Brook University explained:
“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.”
TiO2 is a chemical used in most sunscreens or sunblocks. When the sunscreen was applied to the skin and then exposed to the old fashioned incandescent light bulbs, there were no harmful effects found. Exposing the skin to CFL bulbs in close proximity for a prolonged time did reveal UV damage to the healthy skin. Rafailovich added:
“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.”
While the study did not specify any particular dangers, I couldn’t help but wonder about desk lamps or pole lamps that people use all the time. Are they exposing themselves to a greater risk of skin damage and possibly skin cancer?
Hence I find myself asking the question if Congress’s actions of outlawing incandescent light bulbs will in effect legislate greater incidences of skin cancer, especially with fair skinned office workers?