Friday, 4 January 2008

Another Light Bulb Moment

Update 4 January 2008:
More problems with CFLs - energy saving compact fluorescent lights - are being reported.
See today's BBC news by clicking this LINK for more up to date information
and for information on 'Spectrum' the UK Alliance for (people with) Light Sensitivity, click on this LINK.

The following was originally posted in March 2007.

This is for the attention of people with light sensitive medical conditions, Lupus, M.E., migraine with or without auras, people who are old, people who don't feel well and don't know why.

Enter the CFL:

CFLs, low energy light bulbs, are a DANGER to the HEALTH of people with light sensitive medical conditions. Particularly LUPUS !

I hated these low energy light bulbs before I knew this. I hated them because they give off a horrible yellow glow, casting all into a gloom that is just enough to see with but never enough to be in. All sorts of organisations keep finding an excuse to send me free ones, to encourage me to be green.

These bulbs are marketed as saving £10 a year in energy. They last three times longer but cost three times as much to buy. I am insulated and efficient in all areas but light bulbs and I recycle everything that I can. I don't need to save light bulb energy, I need to be able to see what I am doing without risking a Lupus flare or Lupus face disfigurement. 'Lupus' is latin for wolf, and the Lupus disfigurement was described originally by the medics as in the shape of a wolf's mask.

I prefer the description 'butterfly' rash now used by Lupus UK. The malar rash is rare nowadays thanks to modern drug treatments. I don't have this aspect of Lupus, and that's the way I hope to remain.

In Lupus, and other light sensitive conditions, old fashioned incandescent light bulbs are safe. CFLs and Fluorescent light bulbs emit UV light, which is not safe for people with these medical conditions. (By the way, neither are infra red heaters which don't warm the space but heat a surface when the infra red rays hit the skin - making you feel warmer. In the depths of winter at Pantomime season, I have a burnt face if I forget to apply sunscreen before going to the village hall event, which has ceiling mounted infrared heaters.)

When the recent push to replace ALL, YES ALL, incandescent light bulbs with CFLs was announced by the government department that needed a sexy scheme to rescue them from the doldrums, I felt, again, part of the ignored minority. My friend whose severe migraines are triggered by CFLs (amongst other triggers) rang in a bit of a panic. Don't worry I said, the Lupus organisation will be onto it. Here they are: this from the latest Lupus UK newsletter, quoted in full:

SPECTRUM Campgain on Light Bulbs:
Four charities working for people with light sensitivity conditions have formed the umbrella group SPECTRUM to co-ordinate approaches to Government on low energy light bulbs. SPECTRUM brings together LUPUS UK, the XP Support Group, Electrosensitivity UK and the Skin Care Campaign. Many health conditions, including Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, can result in severe reactions to low energy bulbs (CFLs) because these bulbs are fluorescent rather than incandescent. SPECTRUM has written to David Miliband, Secretary of State for the Environment, to express deep concern about potential moves by the Government and European Union to force universal use of CFLs. (These were trailed in the Government's Energy Review published in July 2006.) DEFRA (Dept for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs) have responded to SPECTRUM's joint letter and we (we/the representatives) are due to have a telephone conference with DEFRA officials shortly. If you are concerned about this important issues, you may wish to write to your MP, MEP or to David Miliband. PLEASE NOTE : DEFRA have enquired what numbers are involved in the groups represented by SPECTRUM.

We will be writing to DEFRA
and our MP and add our names to the list of people whose lives will be severly affected, medically and socially, if CFLs are pushed harder and incandescent light bulbs consigned to history.

If you are affected, please contact the Lupus organisation above or your Member of Parliament, so that DEFRA can be given accurate statistics of people affected by CFLs, who cannot be ignored in the rush to be seen to be protecting the planet.
EDIT: Sign the Petition direct.
Update 4 January 2008 - The Petition to Parliament has now closed. If you are affected, please use the link above to contact your Member of Parliament and ask for her/his support for the campaign against CFLs. Thank you for your interest.

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Blogger seahorse said...

Wow, that's really important info as I am incredibly light sensitive. I have to have the computer set on a low brightness, but still only use it for 10 mins at a time. I can't watch much TV, and find sunlight... well it brings out the vamp in me that's for sure. And yet we have these bulbs all over our (current) house. I think I will be able to ban them in my new abode, as it will be entirely up to me. Thanks so much for this, and all your support lately :-)

Thursday, 29 March 2007 at 21:06:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Glad to help - spread the word, and please sign up so that the statistics reflect the number of people affected.

Best wishes for your new home.

Thursday, 29 March 2007 at 21:25:00 BST  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

Thanks for that post. Lots of things I did not know about. I have never liked CFLs, bcause the light is awful. I do have migraine, but I didn't know that CFLs can trigger that. I did not know either that there are so many conditions including sensitivity to light. I will check the web for infomation on CFLs in Germany, but at the moment they are not promoted too much over here, thank godness.

Friday, 30 March 2007 at 06:47:00 BST  
Blogger Ol Rocky said...

And of course there is that coveniently overlooked problem of the dangerous nature of the materials used to make them orrible lights and the problems they will cause when they need to be disposed of.

I have a tried a mix of both types of light and slowly ove r time the pile of unused flourescent ones replaced with incandescent is growing in the drawer.
I find incandescent ones far easier to see by!
Net searches reveal all sorts of concerns over thier use which we are told are all "Rubbish"

personally it's incandescent for me, then again I ride in a 1990 Diesel powered van so what can one expect!

Friday, 30 March 2007 at 09:44:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Thanks BMone - if you can find any info in Germany that shows a reason NOT to promote them, I would be interested so I can use it to defend my position.
Do you have fluorescent lights in your home ? I think in migraine it is a combination of the 'flicker' rate and well as the type of light emitted. Not a very scientific explanation I know, but I hope you know what I mean.

Hi ol rocky - you are so right - the powers that be keep very quiet about disposal. My local recycling centre has a seperate bay for fluorescent tubes, but what happens to them afterwards, who knows!

Friday, 30 March 2007 at 11:51:00 BST  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Well, that's interesting. I had been going over to fluorescents, as had many people I know. And I have also started getting m igraines again as have several of these friends. I hadn't made the connection until now.

I would be willing to bet old fluorescents end up in India or North China like every other poisonous waste.

Friday, 30 March 2007 at 12:10:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Charles, do you mean "going over to..." fluorescent tubes, or CFLs, which are also fluorescent ?

If you mean CFLs and you (and your friends) have started getting migraines, could you (and your friends) please please get your name on the list via your MP to DEFRA - it is so important.

And ditch the fluorescent tubes for your own sake. I can't stay in a room with them for more than 10 minutes or so without starting to get brain fogged and speech slurred.

No research has been done on medical ill effects on any of these products when they were introduced, it is up to us affected to affect change.

Friday, 30 March 2007 at 12:33:00 BST  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

Sally, I do not have any fluorescent light in my home, but of course we do have fluorescent tubes at the office and in all of the classrooms I am teaching in.
I will go and see if I can find any information for you.

Saturday, 31 March 2007 at 07:59:00 BST  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

I mean CFLs at home, Sally. I wouldn't have had fluorescent tubes in the house anyway, since I have always had to have them wherever I have worked and they are gruesome. I seem to have spent my life ripping them out of kitchens whenver I have moved house.

Incidentally, at home I have a bathroom wall light which is enclosed by a globe, as is legally required, and there is no way I could fit a CFL into that as it only takes a small incandescent. I wonder how many thousands of light fittings are in this fix and will have to be jettisoned if incandescents are banned. It won't only be the migraine-lupus mob who are complaining then!

Saturday, 31 March 2007 at 14:31:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Thanks BMone, if I haven't made myself clear ('cos this is a befuffled time) its CFLs that are the real bastards.
Charles, your second para; typically NOT joined up government.

The migraine-lupus mob haven't the capacity to be a mob, maybe a blob.

Today I feel very blobby.

Sunday, 1 April 2007 at 11:06:00 BST  
Blogger Peter said...


I don't understand. Is your condition sensitive to both UV and IR? Please can you explain this?

Many thanks!

Saturday, 5 January 2008 at 00:12:00 GMT  
Blogger andrea said...

We seem to be on the same wavelength here (pun intended), as despite being an American blogger, had posted on this earlier.

Saturday, 5 January 2008 at 17:08:00 GMT  
Blogger Sally said...

Peter, welcome new visitor.
I cannot explain it, other than to note that both UV and IR are light, but found at different points on the spectrum - I never studied physics.
Lupus is a systemic disease affecting all the body's systems, so the skin surface reacts differently to infra-red than non-Lupus skin does, and the excessive proteins produced by Lupus disease in reaction to UV light, put the Lupus-ed over-active immune system into over-drive.
Do you have skin sensitivity that brought you to this topic, or are you a med student ?

Monday, 7 January 2008 at 11:34:00 GMT  
Blogger Sally said...

Hi Andrea, I've missed being able to keep up with your posts, which always explain a bit more about me to me !
I have commented at yours.
Thanks for your comment.
We are sisters under the skin !

Monday, 7 January 2008 at 11:36:00 GMT  
Blogger Lily said...

Just wanted to say 'Hi' as I'm back blogging again. Hope you're well and beating the beaurocrats!

Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 21:19:00 GMT  

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