Prior to Sunday, I had never seen the press surrounding a Trent University professor’s claims that CFLs were quietly destroying my health. When I first saw the video that Maura shared, I was very skeptical. And mildly concerned.
We recommend CFLs all the time and I have personally witnessed the significant advancements they’ve made over the last few years. They’re quicker to light, more efficient to operate and far less expensive than they used to be. So why hadn’t I heard about their plot to kill me?!
Probably because there isn’t one. What we have here is a sensational story that spins something you’ve probably known your entire life…
I’m going to guess that at some point, you’ve been told it’s not a good idea to put your head in or near a microwave in operation. Why? Because it produces waves that may or may not be bad for you. No need to risk it.
What this story is talking about is something real. Well, the loaded name “dirty electricity” refers to something real, anyway…
Droppin’ science, droppin’ it all over…
Electromagnetic fields, or EMF (no, not that EMF), radiate from obvious sources like power lines and transformers and perhaps less evident electronics like computers and cell phones. You probably read about the push to limit cell phone use because studies implied negative health effects could result. It’s because of the EMF.
Opponents claim that the blood sugar of diabetics will climb and that asthma in children worsens when near these magnetic fields (no, not those Magnetic Fields). They have studies to prove this, though overall agreement on the matter remains largely splintered with contradictory results abound.
Most of the time, the studies that show links between horrific health issues and EMF surround enormous amounts of radiation. There’s a rather large difference between the amount of EMF from a power line and from a CFL. That’s not to say it’s totally “safe,” but there are much bigger fish to fry when it comes down to radiation exposure.
If you wanted to completely protect yourself from EMF radiation, you’re going to need to ditch your computer, cell phone, portable house phone, TV, alarm clock, and just about all other electronics you have in or near your home. Fortunately, no study has been able to consistently prove your use of a computer will definitely cause a brain tumor (though I strongly suspect extended exposure to Badgers will do just that).
Back to the video…
The original source of this information came from a YouTube video, posted by a company that sells (you know it) electromagnetic radiation detection and safeproofing services. They were interviewed as part of the story, which was delivered by CBC Montreal.
This 2009 story is not easy to find on the CBC website, though I was able to find that Health Canada was planning to test the safety of these bulbs. After that, the coverage on the potential dangers of CFL stopped. Health Canada completed their study on the ultraviolet radiation and magnetic fields from CFLs this past January.
Regarding both EMF and UV exposure, test results showed that CFLs (single or double envelope) do not pose a health hazard.
There certainly are measureable effects that come about when you spend a great deal of time within an inch or so from the bulb, so you should probably avoid that. Risks are significantly lessened the further you are from the source.
(Note: You may have noticed that the “readings” shown in the news video were done within an inch of the bulb, which wasn’t even plugged into a real lamp. Thank goodness that expert was there to show a product he sells that could save us from the readings he provided.)
The bottom line here is that your CFLs are not going to kill you. Sure, they can get hot and may burn your face if you stay too close to it for an hour or more, but that’s hardly a reason to continue using inefficient light bulbs.
Consider using LEDs if you can afford them, which produce no “dirty electricity” and significantly less heat. Otherwise, keep on using your CFLs in a responsible fashion. Just remember this important piece of advice:
If you hear a ringing sound, don’t answer the lamp.
With that final tip, I’m off… A few quick notes before I go:
- I’m not a doctor or an EMF scientist. It’s best you consult a medical professional if you think there’s a chance magnetic fields are actually affecting your health.
- If you have an energy-related question that you’d like me to answer in a future post, tweet @Renewabelle or get in touch with me one of a few other ways over here.
- If you have any follow up questions or notes you’d like to add, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope this information proves useful and that it finds you well.