Great news: Federally-permitted lightbulbs a cancer risk

posted at 1:01 pm on January 4, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Legislate in haste … repent at leisure. In their haste to rid Americans of the unconscionable plague of perfectly safe if somewhat inefficient incandescent lighting, politicians in Washington have forced us to adopt more expensive technology in its place. Compact flourescent lighting (CFLs) are already known to be a considerable disposal risk, thanks to the mercury used in them. A new study reported earlier this week by Miami’s CBS affiliate warns of an operational risk as well — ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancers and even acute burns (via Katie Pavlich):

Every time you turn on the lights, you may be putting yourself at risk, according to a disturbing new study.

Energy efficient bulbs are eco-friendly and can save you big bucks, but experts say that some could also have a dark side.

Actually, they’re not all that eco-friendly, as even the government acknowledges.  The EPA wants to argue that the release of mercury from CFLs in disposal is less than that released from the burning of the amount of coal one saves by using them.  That may well be true overall, but not if one breaks in your house.  At that point, you need to conduct an hours-long cleanup — and even if you want to dispose of an unbroken CFL, it takes special disposal in most jurisdictions due to the eco-unfriendly nature of CFLs.

And now, it takes special instructions to use them, too:

Money saving, compact fluorescent light bulbs emit high levels of ultra violet radiation, according to a new study. Research at Long Island’s Stony Brook found that the bulbs emit rays so strong that they can actually burn skin and skin cells.

“The results were that you could actually initiate cell death,” said Marcia Simon, a Professor of Dermatology.

Exposure to the bulbs could lead to premature aging and skin cancer, according to doctors.

“It can also cause skin cancer in the deadliest for, and that’s melanoma,” said Dr. Rebecca Tung.

Well, these are just the defective CFLs, right?  The outsides are coated to block UV radiation.  And that’s true, but …

In every bulb that researchers tested they found that the protective coating around the light creating ‘phosphor’ was cracked, allowing dangerous ultraviolet rays to escape.

So what can you do?  Stay away from them:

Stony Brook researches advised that customers exercise caution and stay two feet away from the bulbs at all times, while storing them in an overhead fixture or lamp.

Gee … maybe Congress should have thought to check this out before regulating incandescents out of existence.


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