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compact flourescent bulb

Since the nation began transitioning from those traditional incandescent bulbs that are now being phased out by the government to energy-efficient compact florescent ones, or CFLs, tens of millions of American households have made the recommended ‘light switch’. But recently, some issues have started coming to light in regard to those CFLs that should cause them to seriously reconsider that decision.

CFLs, as is now becoming evident, pose a whole host of health risks that were either brushed aside or not fully understood when the technology began to be mass produced:

  1. If broken, the toxic vapors given off by the mercury they contain call for an immediate evacuation  of people and pets from the area, the shutting down of heating or air conditioning, and an elaborate cleanup procedure outlined in a series of steps by the Environmental Protection Agency.  And while the EPA  urges anyone faced with that task not to be unduly alarmed, the concentrations of mercury from such an event can reportedly be up to 8.000 times the recommended exposure limits for children.
  2. Flaws in the design of these curly-shaped bulbs, according to researchers from Stony Brook University and other experts, can cause them to produce excessive amounts of UV radiation capable of causing the kind of skin damage that might set the stage for skin cancer.  In some cases, individuals with skin sensitivities have developed angry red rashes after short periods of exposure to them, Incandescent bulbs, by contrast, caused them to suffer no such effect.
  3. Many people have reported CFL bulbs as being a trigger of  headaches and eyestrain.
  4. Researchers are now finding that the type of  “blue spectrum” light given off by CFLs has an inhibiting effect on the body’s production of the hormone melatonin when they’re used after the sun sets. This not only disrupts  our ‘internal clock’, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep and affecting alertness and performance the next day, but over  time can reduce our immunity to a number of major diseases.
  5. While CFLs are touted as cutting down on mercury pollution created by power plants, they will eventually have to be disposed of, with the mercury they contain creating a toxic waste hazard all of its own.

Anyway you look at it, CFLs are a bad bet from a health perspective — something that apparently wasn’t considered when they were introduced as an energy-saving alternative.

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Linda Bonvie

Linda Bonvie is an author and consumer advocate with over 20 years of experience researching and writing about food safety, health and environmental issues. She is the editor of FoodIdentityTheft.com, for which she writes twice weekly blogs, and is co-author of Chemical-Free Kids: How to Safeguard Your Child’s Diet and Environment (2003) and Chemical-Free Kids: the Organic Sequel (2008), as well as The Stevia Story: a tale of incredible sweetness and intrigue (1997). Articles she has co-authored with her brother Bill have been published in a number of top magazines and many major newspapers. One, an expose on the spraying of passengers on international flights with a toxic pesticide, which was published back in 1993, led to the requirement being dropped by a couple dozen countries after then-Transportation Secretary Federico Pena became personally involved in the issue.