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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do CFLs pose a UV risk?

There have been a number of reports lately that the amount of UV given off by our compact fluorescent bulbs may be posing a significant health risk. Word is that prolonged exposure, especially at distances of less than 30cm (1 foot), can cause sunburn!

According the GE's website, CFLs produce less UV than natural sunlight. They also make a lower UV bulb that is also shatter-resistant (good if you're worried about mercury spills as well!). Other sites [pdf] talk about a double-envelope bulb which emits no UV at all.

Let's cut through the hype and take the WWF as the final word on the matter:

  • Don't spend 1 hour at less than 2cm distance from these bulbs.

  • Don't spend 8 hours at 20cm or less from your CFL.

  • If you have Lupus or other skin conditions, consult your doctor about your lighting choices.

Otherwise, keep your CFLs! Don't lose sight of the fact that these are serious reducers of your energy consumption!

Seriously, other than the concerns for the pre-existing skin conditions, under what circumstances would someone need to spend that kind of time that close to any bulb? With appropriate brightness, one could easily stay a reasonable distance from the bulb and still get the appropriate level of light for whatever task is needed.
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