Newsletter #417
Lee Euler, Editor
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Protect Your Health – Hoard Light Bulbs

Sounds crazy, but some people are stocking their shelves with incandescent light bulbs. These are the ones you likely grew up holding by their fat heads while you screwed them in the socket.

Before you dismiss this hoarding as the work of doomsday fanatics—let me tell you that one such person is a professor of ophthalmology at the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology! Keep reading to find out what he’s worried about…

Continued below…

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Far from preparing a post-apocalyptic shelter, Professor John Marshall and others are concerned that the newer low-energy light bulbs may cause sunburn-like damage to your skin, premature aging, and even skin cancer.

I stocked up on old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs myself because I loathe the pale, sickly light of the new ones. Now there’s an even better reason.

Our rulers in Washington know better, of course. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) have earned their “Energy Star” rating as a product that protects the environment and climate through superior energy efficiency.

The Energy Star program asserts that the CFL bulbs are an excellent choice because they:

  • Uses about 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb,
  • Last 10 to 25 times longer, and
  • Produce about 75% less heat, thereby cutting energy costs

Despite those ‘glowing’ remarks from the EPA, it’s the difference in the way these bulbs shed their light that’s raising concern.

Let there be SAFE light…

The light from an incandescent bulb comes from an electrically heated filament inside a glass globe filled with inert gas.

In contrast, low-energy bulbs use argon and mercury vapor in their spiral-shaped tube. The heated gas produces ultraviolet (UV) light rays, which stimulate a fluorescent coating inside the tube.

As this coating absorbs energy, it emits light. Professor Marshall said the concern is about some of the light rays these CFL bulbs emit.

Recent scientific evidence indicates these rays are damaging to human eyes and skin.

Light is a form of radiation that’s made up of different colored rays, which have different wavelengths. As you may have learned in school, a prism breaks up white light into its rainbow of component colors.

The shorter the color’s wavelength, the more energy it contains.
The short wavelength of bluish light at the indigo/violet end of the color
spectrum is the most damaging.

What unsuspecting homeowners don’t know is that the new low-energy bulbs emit high peaks of blue and UV light waves from this end of the spectrum.

A new research study from Stony Brook University in New York appears to confirm this invisible danger.

Researchers uncover the
dark side of a bright idea

The Stony Brook team, led by Miriam Rafailovich, PhD, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and the Director of the Garcia Center for Polymers at Engineered Interfaces at Stony Brook, measured UV emissions from CFL bulbs as well as the phosphor coating, which is supposed to contain UV radiation and prevent it from traveling farther.

Their study also compared the effects of both CFL light bulbs and the incandescent bulbs on human skin cells.

The light bulbs were randomly purchased at stores in the Stony Brook area. It appears that radiation leakage arises from cracks in the phosphor coating, which were found in ALL the light bulbs purchased and tested.

Yes, in each light bulb they found the phosphor was cracked and emitting radiation. Further testing showed skin cells experienced significant damage when exposed to CFL light bulbs, but no damage at all when exposed to incandescent bulbs of the same intensity.

“Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation,” said Professor Rafailovich in a statement.

“The results were that you could actually initiate cell death,” said another member of the Stony Brook team, Marcia Simon.

The group recommends that consumers exercise caution when using CFL bulbs. They offered one possible safety recommendation, namely, “to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover.”

This may be one way to protect your skin from the UV rays these bulbs emit. But there are additional health concerns associated with these energy-efficient bulbs as well…

Migraines, nerve damage, and eye burn—OH MY!

In addition to the potential skin damage, Professor Marshall in the UK highlights the danger of CFL bulbs on your eyesight.

Marshall said long-term exposure to ultraviolet wavelengths from CFLs increases the risk of two seriously debilitating eye conditions, macular degeneration and cataracts.

In macular degeneration, the macula at the center of your retina becomes damaged with age. According to Professor Marshall, people who live in countries with high levels of ultraviolet light (presumably the tropics) have eyes that age faster.

The Stony Brook study suggests that UV rays from energy-efficient bulbs can produce similar damage.

And that’s not all. . .

Traditional incandescent bulbs only flicker when they’re about to break. In contrast, CFL bulbs can flicker imperceptibly.

According to a 2013 study in the journal Neurology, flickering lights can trigger migraines in some sufferers.

As if all that weren’t bad enough— CFL bulbs contain mercury, which has been associated with health problems like nerve damage and birth defects. If you happen to break one, these toxic materials spill into you home. Dispose of without touching.

So as governments promote more energy efficient products… and it becomes harder to find incandescent light bulbs…

…you just might find yourself grabbing and hoarding the round headed bulbs when you DO find them—especially if your aim is to minimize unnecessary health risks!

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Kindest regards,

Lee Euler,




Brice, M. 2013. Some energy efficient light bulbs may boost risk of skin cancer. Medical Daily. Retrieved from
Naish, J. 2014. The medical experts who refuse to use low-energy lightbulbs in their homes. Daily Mail. Retrieved from
Stony Brook University. 2012, July 8. SBU study reveals harmful effects of CFL bulbs to skin. Press statement retrieved from

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