Sunday, August 19, 2012


There are scary stories floating around regarding the dangers posed by Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) that is being promoted as a "green" alternative to the traditional incandescent bulbs with the added advantage of energy savings. In fact there are conscious attempts in many countries to weed out incandescent bulbs through various incentives and in spite of the high cost of CFL bulbs, about 3-4 times higher than that of the old bulbs, people are increasingly adopting them for saving on power cost, claimed to be to the extent of 75%. The startling news based on some research findings that implicates radiation from CFL in possible development of cancer must not be allowed to turn the clock back on CFL promotion. Unless there is absolute proof that CFL can be dangerous to the health of people such half backed research findings should not be disseminated to create unnecessary alarm among the people. Here is a commentary on this latest expose.  

"New research out of Stony Brook University though raises some concerns about their impact on our skin—it seems CFLs emit ultraviolet radiation that damages human skin cells. So, while CFLs are certainly the green choice, users should take some precautions, says Dr. Miriam Rafailovich. Despite their large energy savings, consumers should be careful when using compact fluorescent light bulbs. Our research shows that it is best to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover. Media Matters noted recently that "right wing media outlets" had seized upon this study to promote "cancerous lightbulb fear mongering," but they also acknowledged that simple measures can be taken to protect against the minimal risk. So, if you're laboring long hours under a CFL powered desk lamp, it's wise to install double envelope CFL bulbs (the encapsulated kind), use a shade, or both". 

The above controversy should not drag on endlessly like the one about Cell phone dangers now being debated, though no concrete proof still exists regarding the harmful effects of using this communication gadget. Designing a lighting system involves deriving maximum flux with minimum discomfort and risks to the users and those who developed CFL as a superior alternative to traditional electric lights must have done adequate studies on its safety to satisfy the regulatory authorities both at country as well as international levels. Of course there is nothing like absolute safety in any human endeavor and after all life is a fine balance between risks and living comforts. Light Emitting Diodes (LED) is another alternative with superior energy efficiency and the only thing that holds it from becoming popular is the exorbitant cost of the system as of now. So far LED system has been found to be safe and with the cost coming down rapidly due to new innovative developments, LED may become the global standard in coming years. In the mean time CFL manufacturers will do well to take the warning about radiation seriously and strive to re-jig the system to make it more reassuring to millions of consumers world over.    


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