A Study Into Fluorescent Lighting

February 4th 2009
A Study Into Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent Lighting has been used in industrial applications for decades, and in recent years the compact fluorescent bulb or CFL has become a great way to conserve energy use within the home. Today Fluorescent lighting is used in a variety of applications, and within the next 4 years, the incandescent light bulb will be phased out completely.

Fluorescent Lighting has undergone some scrutiny in recent months for a couple of different reasons. The first being fluorescent light tubes and bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury (equivalent in size to the ball on a ball-point pen) as well as other potentially harmful gases that could be hazardous when disposed of improperly. It is important to recycle our fluorescent tubes and CFL bulbs properly rather than throwing them in the garbage. All Home Depot locations and IKEA stores will accept fluorescent tubes for recycling.

The second reason fluorescent lights have come under suspicion is from recent British Research claims that there is a possibility of minor health risks linked to fluorescent lighting. These researchers claim that fluorescent lights can, (depending on their wattage) release a level of UV (ultra violet) radiation that could be harmful to those with skin conditions sensitive to light, and that prolonged exposure within a 30 centimeter radius of a Fluorescent light, the amount of UV radiation exposure is comparable to the amount absorbed by the body on a sunny summer day.

While this is not of grave concern to the general public, continued exposure could aggravate existing skin conditions, like eczema and dermatitis, and has prompted Health Canada to conduct its own research into the claims.

The Health Canada study will also look into whether any evidence exists that extended fluorescent light exposure could lead to headaches, nausea and even seizures in people with epilepsy.

The British Government is set to ban the incandescent light bulb by January of 2011, and Canada has set its deadline for phasing out incandescent bulbs for January 2012.

It is fairly certain that CFL Bulbs are safe, and do not pose an immediate threat. After all, think about the last time you spent an extended 8 hour period or longer within a 30 cm radius of a Fluorescent bulb if ever.

Both CFL's and fluorescent tubes continue to be sold as an energy saving alternative to the incandescent bulb and until proven otherwise, are considered very safe within the home. What you must make certain, is that you use the correct wattage CFL Bulb for the correct socket. Below is a table which will help you find the right bulb for the right fixture.

Wattage Comparison Between CFL's and Incandescent bulbs:

CFL : 8-10 Incand.: 40 Lumens: 450
CFL :13-18 Incand.: 60 Lumens: 890
CFL :18-22 Incand.: 75 Lumens:1210
CFL :23-28 Incand.:100 Lumens:1750
CFL :34-42 Incand.:150 Lumens:2780

Lumens are the measure of the perceived power of light.  The higher the lumens, the more light is given off by the bulb.