Low-Energy Light Bulbs Can Cause Rashes
The traditional incandescent light bulb, which has been the staple in homes to banish darkness for over a hundred years, may be disappearing, and the low-energy light bulb that takes its place can cause rashes and swelling for thousands of people.
New, low-energy, compact fluorescent bulbs use just 30 percent of the energy of incandescent bulbs. Green-minded organizations, as well as the U.S. government and mega-retailer Walmart, are promoting their use, emphasizing their overall money-saving features despite their higher initial cost. Some countries, including Great Britain, are banning the use of traditional light bulbs by 2012.
But in addition to the concerns over mercury pollution that broken compact bulbs present, Dr. Robert Sarkany, a photodermatologist at St. John’s Institute of Dermatology, St. Thomas’ Hospital in London told the Daily Mail that he’s treated patients who have skin rashes due to exposure to low-light fluorescent bulbs.
Other doctors worry that the new bulbs could even cause skin cancer. “It is important that patients with photosensitive skin eruptions are allowed to use lights that don’t exacerbate their condition,” said Dr. Colin Holden, president of the British Association of Dermatologists. “Photosensitive eruptions range from disabling eczema-like reactions, to light sensitivities that can lead to skin cancer.”
Those who have lupus and some forms of dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis are at risk, and British charities say that the light from low-energy light bulbs also triggers migraines and epilepsy. Sufferers have appealed to Parliament to exempt them from having to use the new bulbs.
In the U.S., laws passed by Congress demand that all light bulbs be 25 percent to 35 percent more efficient by 2014, citing $40 billion in savings between 2012 and 3040, and the need for 14 fewer coal-fired power plants.
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