The new energy-saving light bulbs, also called compact fluorescent lights (CFL), have been heavily promoted as cost-efficient due to the fact that they have longer life and lower power consumption. This may sound really promising, but these energy- efficient light bulbs actually provide more than what you’re bargaining for.
For one thing, there’s been mounting evidence that the new generation of light bulbs are highly toxic owing to the high content of poisonous gases they contain. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency created an emergency protocol that must be followed in the event of a bulb breakage due to the vapors it’ll release. Read on to find out what these bulbs can do to your health.
WHY ENERGY-SAVING LIGHT BULBS ARE A SERIOUS HEALTH RISK
Energy-saving light bulbs contain mercury, which is a powerful neurotoxin, classified as toxic waste. Mercury is particularly toxic to the brain, the nervous system, the liver and the kidneys. Its harmful effects can also damage the cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems. Mercury poisoning can cause tremors, anxiety, insomnia, memory loss, headaches, cancer and Alzheimer’s. The real danger occurs when a bulb breaks and mercury is released into your home.
According to a new study, compact fluorescent light bulbs emit high levels of ultraviolet radiation, the harmful effects of which are known to cause skin damage and cataract formation. The radiation from these bulbs compromises the function of the immune system, and damages the skin tissues by preventing the proper formation of vitamin D-3. Exposure to the bulbs could lead to premature aging and skin cancer, according to doctors. The European Union recommends limiting exposure to compact fluorescent bulbs to no closer than one foot away for an hour a day.
Headaches and Migraines
Recent research shows that workers exposed to natural light are less susceptible to headaches, nausea, and migraines compared to those working in offices illuminated with fluorescent bulbs.
Energy Saving Bulbs and Cancer
A new study conducted by Peter Braun at Berlin Germany’s Alab Laboratory discovered that these light bulbs contain poisonous carcinogens including phenol, naphthalene and styrene. Phenol is both a manufactured chemical and a natural substance. Obtained from coal tar, it is a toxic colorless-to-white solid when pure. Naphthalene is a volatile white crystalline compound, produced by the distillation of coal tar and used in mothballs and as a raw material for chemical manufacture. Last, but not least, styrene is an unsaturated liquid hydrocarbon, obtained as a petroleum byproduct.
HOW TO PREVENT THE DAMAGE IN CASE OF BULB BREAKAGE
In case of a broken light bulb, the official EPA emergency procedure requires that:
- people and pets should immediately evacuate the room/house for at least 15 minutes so as to minimize the exposure to poisonous gas,
- the room/house is aerated,
- the central heating or air-conditioning system is turned off.
The next step is to collect the broken bulb pieces for which you need stiff cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels or wet wipes, a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag. Vacuuming is not recommended until all other clean-up steps have been done as it can spread the mercury containing powder or vapor.
Finally, these bulbs should be properly disposed of as they are household hazardous waste. Never throw them away in the regular garbage because they are highly toxic.