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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