Harmful Radiation Risk From Light Bulbs
New research from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) shows that some energy-saving, compact fluorescent lightbulbs can emit ultra-violet radiation at levels, which, under certain conditions of use, can result in exposures higher than guideline levels.
The Agency and government departments are calling on the European Union, relevant product standards bodies, and the lighting industry to consider how product standards for lights can be tightened up.
On the back of its research, the HPA is recommending some precautionary measures for the use of certain types of bulbs. It warns that open (single-envelope) bulbs should not be used where people are in close proximity – closer than 30cm – to the bare lightbulb for more than one hour a day. In such situations, says the Agency, open bulbs should be replaced by encapsulated (double-envelope) bulbs. Alternatively, the lamp should be moved so that it is at least 30cm away.
Encapsulated bulbs do not emit significant amounts of UV radiation. The larger, long-tube, ‘strip lighting’ fluorescent lights, commonly used in offices, workplaces, and homes can also be used on ceilings without any special precautionary measures.
HPA chief executive, Justin McCracken, stressed: “We are advising people to avoid using the open lightbulbs for prolonged close work until the problem is sorted out, and to use encapsulated bulbs instead. In other situations, where people are not likely to be very close to the bulbs for any length of time, all types of compact fluorescent lightbulbs are safe to use.”
The Government is pressing the EU to take account of the research findings in future European legislation.