The energy-saving light bulbs that could leave you red-faced… from UV radiation

From The Daily Mail:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1075613/The-energy-saving-light-bulbs-leave-red-faced–UV-radiation.html

They are being foisted on us as a way of saving energy. But it seems some eco-friendly light bulbs may not be as good for us as we thought.

According to Government scientists, many of the bulbs emit more than the guideline rate of harmful ultraviolet radiation.

The researchers say some energy-saving fluorescent bulbs, which will be compulsory in British homes by 2011, can cause reddening of the skin if used for long periods of time close to the body.

The Health Protection Agency said the UV threat could affect those who use reading lamps on their bedside tables.

Thousands of workers such as jewellery makers who work with their hands and use lamps at close quarters could also be affected. There is, however, no risk of skin cancer from the bulbs, the agency added.

Chief executive Justin McCracken said: ‘At the exposure levels we are talking about, the worst effect that we believe there is as result of our investigation is that people could have some short-time reddening of their skin.

‘We do not believe that these lights pose any significant risk in terms of skin cancer.

‘This is precautionary advice and people should not be thinking of removing these energy-saving light bulbs from their homes.

‘In situations where people are not likely to be very close to the bulbs for any length of time, all types of compact fluorescent light bulbs are safe to use.’

The type of bulbs affected are ‘open’ light bulbs, which are not surrounded by a glass case.

HPA tests showed that 20 per cent of these emitted higher than guideline levels of UV radiation.

‘Encapsulated’ fluorescent light bulbs, which are surrounded by a glass cover and look like traditional bulbs, do not emit high levels of UV.

The HPA said people should not use open bulbs closer than one foot to the body for more than one hour a day, or should switch to encapsulated bulbs.

The study, due to be published in an academic journal, found that people would have to spend four hours a day at almost eight inches from the bulb before they went over existing guidelines on exposure. 

Exposure at one inch gave a UV level equivalent to being outside in the UK on a sunny summer’s day.

But at distances of more than 12 inches, the UV level was found to be safe.

More than 20million ‘eco bulbs’ are sold every year, about 13 per cent of the total, and they last around 10,000 hours  –  up to 12 times longer than traditional bulbs

They cost £3 to £4 each, compared to 50p for a normal bulb, but supporters say they save £100 on an electricity bill over their lifetime.

But they contain mercury, which can be dangerous if the bulb breaks, and critics say the way they flicker causes problems for migraine sufferers and other problems for those with epilepsy.

Note of the editor: contrary  to HPA claims, energy saving lamps can cause reddening and a hot, burning feeling of the skin even at greater distances to the lamps and after very short periods of exposure.

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