Power Saver Bulbs Can Cause Cancer! Shocking!
In most Indian households, the traditional incandescent light bulbs are diminishing and in their place we can see more of energy efficient power saving bulbs or CFLs (compact fluorescent lightbulbs). Some people like these bulbs as they use very less power whereas others don’t like the seemingly artificial light that they emit.
However, there is a more serious concern related to use of CFLs. A recent study has shown that CFLs can damage our skin, cause premature ageing, slow wound healing and even cancer of the skin!
Dangerous rays are emitted by flawed bulbs
Before heading towards the study, let us see how CFLs work.
CFL bulbs are coated on the inside with a phosphor, which is a substance that absorbs energy and emits light when it is stimulated by UV radiation. This UV radiation is produced when electricity passes through the argon and mercury vapour present inside the bulb. On absorbing the invisible UV rays, the phosphor re-radiates them outside the bulb as non-UV visible light. The phosphor is also responsible for blocking UV rays from escaping but this does not happen always according to the new study.
The researchers bought 9 CFLs of different brands and wattages and measured the UV emissions of each bulb. Shockingly they found that the bulbs emitted both UVA and UVC rays! By the way CFLs don’t emit UVB rays.
Researchers went ahead to look for structural damage in the bulbs that would probably explain how the UV rays escaped. They found that each bulb had chips or cracks in the so called ‘protective’ phosphor coating. Such chips and cracks could be because of the spiral shape of the bulb.
How the skin gets affected?
Researchers wanted to find out how damaging this kind of UV exposure can be to the skin. They set out to carry out detailed experiments and what they found out is plain scary!
They used 26 watt CFLs and placed it various distances from human skin cells. They then compared the level of UV exposure with guidelines made by the government for the maximum radiation intensity that is safe for workers in an 8 hour span.
When a CFL bulb was placed 14 inches away from skin cells (at the distance of a desk lamp), within 5 hours the max safety level of exposure to radiation was reached. And when the bulb was placed just one inch away from the skin cells, the max safety level was reached in 79 secs!
The longer you are exposed to a UV source and the closer you are to it, there is a greater risk of your skin getting damaged. Researchers deduced that CFLs can cause serious skin problems and even cancer. However, what needs to be noted is that in the study, no skin damaging effects were seen when the cells were exposed to the traditional yellow bulb (incandescent light).
Protecting yourself from skin damaging CFLs
Though steps need to be taken to ensure that CFLs don’t have a structural defect, we should also stay on guard! Here is how you can protect yourself from the damaging effects of CFLs:
1) Stay at a safe distance from CFLs
When a CFL is on, make sure that you stay from it at a minimum distance of 30 inches. At 30 inches, most CFLs were found to be safe.
2) Use light fixtures that have glass shades
As glass is known to absorb some UV rays, try using light fixtures that have glass shades. How much they absorb depends on the glass’s thickness!
Hope this post was informative!
You may also like reading-