Energy saving light bulbs, especially low quality ones, sometimes cause flickering light. This can lead to discomfort, headaches/migraine (17), eye strain, diminished concentration (18), seizure-like symptoms in epileptics (19), worsened symptoms in people with Ménière’s disease, etc.
– Toxic chemicals
The electronic circuit of energy saving lamps contains flame retardants (PBDE). These are chemical compounds that accumulate in the body and which studies have linked to harmful effects on the hormonal and reproductive system, the liver, the thyroid gland, to cancer and neurological effects (2, 20).
Some energy saving lamps also have an external coating of titanium dioxide, made up of ultra small nano-particles. There still is a lot of uncertainty on the health effects of nano-particles but there are indications that they can lead to inflammation in tissues and organs and to cardiovascular effects (21).
– Diminished production of melatonin
German scientists have warned that the large proportion of blue light emitted by CFL’s can lead to a diminished production of the important hormone melatonin. This in turn can lead to a wide variety of diseases and conditions: sleeping disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, etc. (22). But the specific light emitted by CFL’s could also influence the production of other hormones and neurotransmitters.
(17) ‘Low-energy bulbs cause migraine’, BBC News, 02/01/2008
(18) ‘Fluorescent lights giving pupils headaches’, The Telegraph, 06/09/2007
(19) ‘Energy-saving light bulbs are threat to epileptics’, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/healthmain.html?in_article_id=463911&in_page_id=1774
(20) Health Canada webpage on PBDE Flame Retardants and Human Health: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/environ/pbde-eng.php#he
(21) Nanotechnology and Health Risks, Health & Environment Alliance Factsheet, April 2008
Health Effects of Nanoparticles, IRSST research report, October 2008
(22) ‘Sinnlos und gefährlich – Mediziner und Klimaforscher warnen vor EU-Glühlampenverbot‘, ARD – Report München, 05/01/2009