On the road to personal and global health, we shouldn’t have to choose: Green OR Healthy…Let’s do Both!
Consider this: fluorescent light bulbs have been linked to migraine headaches and worse.
Modern life has brought new exciting developments, most of which make life and living more fun, none of which alone would have a negative affect, but added together, our bodies have trouble adapting.
As we take a look at these influences and how to shift gently we can lessen our experience of ‘allergies’, illness and crabbiness, to mention a few.
The Light Link
Although florescent bulbs use less electricity and run cooler than incandescents, the use of these lights has been linked to minor and even more severe health risks. The “temperature” of the light (cool blue v. warm yellow) and the flicker rate of the mechanism that ignites the internal gasses act together to challenge our healthy bodies. Migraines, epileptic seizures, decreased immune system function, nervousness, inability to focus and depression are some of the problems linked to time spent with fluorescent lighting. After-image of today’s CFLs (Curly Florescent Lamps) is indication of a sort of mini-“bruise” on your retina. Recent studies are showing that prolonged exposure to “cool” florescent light is damaging to the retina.
What are our options? We have a few:
- Install New Fixtures
- Use full-spectrum bulbs
- Integrate natural daylight
- Use new LED replacement bulbs for florescent fixtures (avoid blue spectrum bulbs if you can)
The Canadian Center for Occupational Health says that some of the problem comes from the “flicker” effect of the fluorescent light bulbs. That ‘flicker’ effect is inherent in the operation of the bulbs as bursts of electricity ignite the gas inside the tubes. The effect is worse in older fixtures. According to the CCOH, you can reduce the ill-effects of ‘flicker’ by buying new fixtures which have electronic (rather than magnetic) ballasts, by replacing your bulbs frequently and making sure all parts of the fixtures work perfectly.
A study done by the CCOH also showed that employees whose offices were located on upper floors (where there is greater exposure to daylight) suffered less ill effects from the bulbs.
Question: If there is a way to reduce stress, inability to focus and immune system suppression, and help our children in schools, our employees everywhere (hospitals, banks, prisons, you name it) shouldn’t we DO IT?
“Flicker” is not the only issue. Most of us use ‘cool-white’ bulbs, and Jacob Liberman, OD, Ph.D., in his groundbreaking and hopeful book Light: Medicine of the Future, suggests that we can reduce the ill-effects even further IF we use the correct fixture and ‘full-spectrum’ bulbs. These bulbs are more costly initially but when that cost is weighted against our ill-health, increased crime rates the figure becomes minimal.
Consider just this ONE study:
“…The development of full-spectrum artificial lighting…prompted Ott to further investigate the possible negative effect of improper lighting on health and performance in human being. In 1973, Ott and the Environmental health and Light research Institute undertook a study involving four first-grade classrooms in Sarasota, Florida. Full-spectrum, radiation-shielded fluorescent light fixtures were installed in two of the window-less classrooms in Sarasota, Florida.
“Full-spectrum, radiation-shielded florescent light fixtures were installed in two of the windowless classrooms, while standard cool-white fluorescent fixtures were installed in two other identical windowless classrooms that served as controls. Concealed time-lapse cameras took random sequences of student and teachers in the classroom. Although teachers were aware of the program, neither they nor their students were aware of when they were being photographed.
“The photographed results were significant. Under the cool-white fluorescent lighting, some students demonstrated hyperactivity, fatigue, irritability, and attentional deficits. In the classrooms with full-spectrum lighting, however, behavior and classroom performance , as well as overall academic achievement, improved markedly within one month after the new lights were installed. Furthermore, several learning-disabled children with extreme hyperactivity problems miraculously calmed down and seemed to overcome some of their learning and reading problems while in the classrooms with full-spectrum lighting.
“This study additionally demonstrated that children in rooms with full spectrum lighting developed one-third the number of cavities in their teeth as children in the classrooms with standard cool-white fluorescent lights.” Liberman, Jason, Light: Medicine of the Future, Rochester, VT: Bear & Company Press, 1991
Empower your home:
If you must use fluorescent bulbs, use new electronic fixtures and full-spectrum bulbs.
When possible, daylight is best. Take advantage of the healthy properties of sunlight.
Think you can’t more daylight into your home? Think about installing Sun Tubes (aka Solar Tubes, Sun Tunnels…do an Internet search) which allow natural daylight to enter even your ‘captive’ rooms. There are many companies making and selling them; be sure to use a reputable installer.
Here is a link to the Daily Mail article:
Energy-Saving Bulbs Causing Migraine Headaches