Below you can find an email that was sent to the Europarliamentarians
of the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the
Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the
Committee for Climate Change:
Dear European parliamentarian,
I heard that there are plans at the European level to place a ban on
incandescent light bulbs, thereby obliging everyone to use low-energy
light bulbs. This is a very, very bad idea.
The problem with low-energy light bulbs (‘compact fluorescent lights’
or ‘CFL’s’) is that they cause a rather strong electromagnetic field,
while this is not the case with regular incandescent light bulbs. This
problem is still very unknown, but the last few months, warnings have
started to emerge regarding the negative health effects of
energy-saving light bulbs. For example, Prof. Magda Havas (Trent
University, Canada), who does research on electromagnetic radiation,
thinks that the ban should be placed on low-energy light bulbs instead
(see information below).
Also, there seem to be certain groups of people who in particular
react very badly to low-energy light bulbs (and some types of halogen
lamps): epileptics, people with lupus, ME, dermatitis, migraine, light
allergy, XP, … They suffer from rather severe and painful reactions to
fluorescent low-energy light bulbs. Like the British citizen group
‘Spectrumalliance’ points out: “These people will suffer increased
ill health and total social exclusion if the ban on incandescent bulbs
is implemented. Their home life, family life and social life will be
severely disrupted and their access to employment, places of worship,
cultural and educational activities will be removed.”
I myself suffer very badly from CFL’s: I get a hot, sunburn-like
feeling in my face, my face/cheeks turn very red, I get some sort of
tension/tremor in my jaws and in general I feel very uncomfortable and
irritable: I just want to flee the room as quickly as possible. It
took a while for me to find out that it was CFL’s (and sometimes
halogen lamps) that were causing my problems. Other people experience
symptoms like hyperactivity, fatigue, headaches, body aches and pains,
concentration difficulties, loss of short-term memory etc. Some people
with epilepsy complain of dizziness, loss of focus, discomfort and
other symptoms that normally come before a seizure.
>From my own experience I can say that the statement that these people
will suffer social exclusion when the ban on incandescent light bulbs
is implemented, is no exaggeration. An arrangement where people like
me would still be able to dispose of regular light bulbs, is no
solution, because we would still be locked up in our homes.
Of course, the electromagnetic radiation caused by CFL’s is below the
current exposure limits, but these limits are questioned by more and
more scientists, because they are (way) too high (see for example
http://www.bioinitiative.org ). Therefore it is important to look at
what people experience in real life.
More research is needed on the health effects of energy-saving light
bulbs. In awaiting this research, I think it is wise to follow a
precautionary approach, which means not (yet) banning incandescent
light bulbs. On the contrary, it might be necessary to inform people
about the electromagnetic pollution caused by compact fluorescent
lights and the possible consequences on human health.
Below you can find more information on the health effects of
low-energy light bulbs.
Letter to the Editor: Vitality Magazine (September 2007)
Not all compact fluorescent lights are the same and not all full
spectrum lights are safe.
I just read Rob Ferraz’s article in Vitality Magazine
“Earthwatch-Compact Fluorescents vs. Full Spectrum Bulbs” and agree
that there are problems with CFL that go beyond the mercury problem.
Some of these hearth concerns were alluded to in the article, namely
that some people complain of irritability, depression, hyperactivity,
fatigue, headaches etc. The articles goes on to state that if full
spectrum lights are used this problem goes away. It’s not that simple.
Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) produce radio wave frequencies. These
frequencies radiate directly from the bulbs and go on the electrical
wiring in the home or school causing poor power quality or dirty
electricity. The closer you sit to the bulb the greater your exposure.
Because the high frequencies travel along the wire you can be exposed
in other rooms of your home as well as the room that contains the CFL.
Not all CFL bulbs produce the same amount of dirty electricity. Some
are worse than others. Our research on CFL will be released to the
public this fall so shoppers can decide which bulbs they want to buy
based on energy efficiency, cost, and potential health impacts to
Full spectrum lights mimic the sun and can reduce seasonal affective
disorder or SAD especially during our northern winters when natural
sunlight is limited. But some full spectrum bulbs also produce high
frequencies that some people are sensitive to. This sensitivity is
known as electrical sensitivity (ES) or electrohypersensitivity (EHS)
and is becoming a growing concern because of our increasing exposure
to electromagnetic energy from electronic equipment and wireless
devices. As many as 3% of the population have full blown EHS and are
unable to live is a modern electrical environment. Many complain that
they cannot be in a room with fluorescent lights because they feel
“unwell”. These people have difficulty shopping in large department
stores because of the lighting and often go with list in hand and
spend as little time in the store as possible. Their cognitive
functions diminish and some have difficulty recalling where they
parked their car.
Putting lights on dimmer switches exacerbates the problem. The dimmer
switch converts the electrical signal into high frequency transients
that result in dirty electricity. Even clean incandescent lights will
produce dirty electricity if a dimmer switch is used. Most CFL are
incompatible with dimmers.
Ontario moved too quickly promoting CFL and David Suzuki should have
done his homework before he allowed his picture to be used to promote
CFL. Yes they will save us green house gases but at what cost to our
Dr. Magda Havas is Associate Professor of Environmental and Resource
Studies at Trent University and does research on electromagnetic
More comments of Prof. Havas:
What we haven’t been told about the CFL bulbs is that they also
produce radio frequency radiation and dirty electricity and are making
some people sick. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, fatigue, body
aches and pains, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, loss of
short-term memory, tremors, etc. About 3% of the population have
electrohypersensitivity (EHS), a sensitivity to energy produced by
electronic equipment and wireless technology. These people don’t
“like” these lights, become ill when entering stores that use them,
and wouldn’t consider buying them for their home or office use. They
prefer the less energy efficient incandescent lights that don’t
produce dirty electricity or radio frequency energy.
If you really want to “save the planet” and still protect your health,
I would suggest you buy the LED (light emitting diodes) that are more
energy efficient than CFL, don’t contact mercury, and don’t produce
radio frequencies that may be harmful to your health.
The Canadian government has to convince manufacturers to redesign
these CFL bulbs and instead of promoting them, they should be banning
We are in the process of completing a study with these bulbs. So far
everyone of the ones we’ve tested, including full spectrum “healthy”
compact fluorescent bulbs produce dirty electricity although at
different frequencies and intensities. The results will be made
available to the public so people can decide for themselves which
bulbs they want to buy for their home.
Banning Incandescent Light Bulbs
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to maintain the
existing incandescent lightbulbs until there are suitable non-fluorescent
energy saving bulbs which can be tolerated by everyone including people with
Health conditions which can result in severe and painful reactions to
fluorescent low-energy bulbs and LEDs include lupus, ME, forms of
eczema and dermatitis, XP, migraine, electrosensitivity and many more.
These people will suffer increased ill health and total social
exclusion if the ban on incandescent bulbs is implemented. Their home
life, family life and social life will be severely disrupted and their
access to employment, places of worship, cultural and educational
activities will be removed.
Lightbulbs are essential items of everyday use. We need to encourage
technologies that promote both environmental sustainability and human health
and wellbeing. This is a serious and complex issue of public health,
disability rights and human rights.
THE PETITION CAN BE VIEWED/SIGNED AT:
For more information on the campaign visit:
Energy-saving light bulbs are threat to epileptics
The ‘green’ light bulbs which will be made compulsory in British homes
can cause people with epilepsy to experience symptoms similar to the
early stages of a fit.
The charity Epilepsy Action says that those with the condition are
complaining of dizziness, loss of focus and discomfort after being
exposed to light from the energy-saving bulbs. The cause of the
problem is not known as the bulbs do not flicker at the rate that
would normally cause ill-effects.
But the issue has become prominent because of EU plans to phase out
all traditional bulbs within two years and replace them with
low-energy versions. Almost half a million people in the UK suffer
from epilepsy and the Government has acknowledged there may be a
Answering a parliamentary question, Health Minister Ivan Lewis said:
It is known some people with epilepsy may be affected by energy-saving
light bulbs. We have made no assessment of the number of such people
Why eco lightbulbs won’t cure global warming:
Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox last night called on the Government to
investigate the health effects and devise a policy that will enable
sufferers to acquire these bulbs without ill-effects. In March, Tony
Blair and fellow EU leaders agreed to phase out old-fashioned bulbs in
private homes by 2009 to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions. It is
likely there will be a ban on the sale of the older bulbs.
Epilepsy Action confirmed they had taken calls from people complaining
of problems with the new bulbs. A spokesman said: ‘There are no
reports of seizures – it is more reports of discomfort similar to the
symptoms that come before a seizure. The research into this is still
at an early stage. It has just come to our attention and we are
starting to look into it.’
Dr Arnold Wilkins, a professor of psychology at Essex University, came
up with one possible explanation. He said: ‘The new lights have an
uneven spectral distribution. The white light is made up of a red and
blue peak, rather than all wavelengths. That may make it difficult to
see differences between colours and might affect people.’
There have also been complaints of discomfort from people with lupus.
In the UK there are about 16,000 sufferers of the condition, which
causes swelling and pain as the body attacks its own tissues.
The Department of Health said: ‘This is a developing area and we have
no further comment.’
Convenience may be causing people to get sick: Electromagnetic
hypersensitivity is a growing health concern (November 2007)
Kevin Byrne, a former sufferer, also said the effects are real.
Three years ago, Byrne moved into a house and did renovations,
including installing new lighting complete with 15 compact fluorescent
lights and three dimmer switches. Over the next few months, Byrne
noticed he was feeling overall unwellness.
“I developed arthritic-like pain. I was very sore and my joints hurt,
especially my hips, and I wasn’t sleeping well,” he said.
He went to the doctor for a checkup, but everything was normal. It
wasn’t until he was visiting a neighbour, an environmental engineer,
that there was some light shed on his situation.
The neighbour was using a Stetzer meter, developed to measure dirty
electricity. Dirty electricity is caused by energy-saving devices such
as power bars and compact fluorescent light bulbs. To achieve the
lower voltage, electricity is chopped up, allowing it to move slower
and achieve energy efficiency. As a result, electricity spews outward
and goes back through the wiring in your home, contaminating
everything that is plugged in. After Byrne took to the meter home to
his house, he found high levels of dirty electricity.
“Your electricity, when it’s clean, there’s nothing fundamentally
wrong with it, but when it’s contaminated … it’s got radiation
spewing off of it,” Byrne said.
Fluorescent lights giving pupils headaches (September 2007)
Children are increasingly being put at risk of headaches because of
the amount of fluorescent lighting in schools, researchers claim.
Eight in 10 classrooms in England are fitted with excessively bright
and flickering lights which have been linked to eye strain and loss of
concentration, a Cambridge University study says today. It claims the
problem has been exacerbated by the use of computerised whiteboards
and poor classroom design.
Mark Winterbottom, from Cambridge’s faculty of education, said: “The
installation of whiteboards and data projectors in classrooms has been
enormous over the last 10 years – I would be amazed if they were not
now used in every school in the country.
“There is evidence that this equipment, coupled with excessive
fluorescent and natural light, can cause headaches and impair visual
Dr Winterbottom and Professor Arnold Wilkins, from Essex University,
investigated the lights in 90 classrooms at 11 secondaries. They found
that 100Hz fluorescent lighting, which creates an “imperceptible
flicker that can cause visual discomfort and make it more difficult to
read accurately”, had been installed in up to 80 per cent of rooms.
The majority added to the problem by having whiteboards and failing to
control the natural light levels, with poor classroom designs or
faulty blinds often to blame, the study said.
The Government has spent an estimated £50 million on “interactive
whiteboards”, which use video, animation, graphics and sound.
Researchers said nine in 10 classrooms were “excessively bright”. Dr
Winterbottom said that schools should make more use of daylight, and
use high frequency 32KHz lighting which “does not cause discomfort”.
The findings, to be presented at the annual conference of the British
Educational Research Association in London today, will be considered
by ministers. A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and
Families said schools should be aware of the safety issues, adding
that information about the use of electronic whiteboards and lighting
was openly available.
French research centre Criirem warns for the electromagnetic radiation
caused by CFL’s (September 2007)
Ampoules à économie d’énergie : Alerte à l’allumage électropolluant
Le fonctionnement des lampes basse consommation génère de puissants
champs électromagnétiques, susceptibles de gravement perturber les
biens et les personnes. Le (riirem déconseille l’utilisation de ces
ampoules en tant que lampes de chevet ou de bureau et demande aux
fabricants de remédier à cette électropollution.
(…) L’expérimentation, menée près de Valence, en Espagne, et
réalisée en chambre anéchoïque avec différentes lampes, de marques et
puissances variées, montre que les ampoules LBC, dès l’allumage, sont
à l’origine d’importants rayonnements radioélectriques… Alors que
les ampoules à incandescence n’en émettent pas. (…)
Mise en garde sur les ampoules à économies d’énergie (press release):
Ampoules à économie d’énergie: Alerte à l’allumage électropolluant
Information on the website of Next Up:
From: Beperk De Straling