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Low EMF Lighting – My Recommendations

Posted by Lloyd Burrell on October 20, 2012 under Electromagnetic protection, EMFs in your home, EMFs in your life, Protection tips | 40 Comments to Read

The lights in your home are perfectly harmless right? Wrong.

Or, thats to say they are not necessarily safe.

To the uninitiated a light bulbs a light bulb. But like pretty much everything electrical there are certain technologies that are much safer than others. And light bulbs are no exception.

Fluorescent Light Bulbs Emit High Levels Of UV Radiation

The above was the headline in an article published on this week. The article reports:

– that our much vaunted eco and budget friendly fluorescent light bulbs actually emit high levels of harmful ultraviolet radiation, according to a new study

– researchers at Stony Brook University randomly tested the bulbs and found the rays were so strong that they could burn your skin on the cellular level.

– according to Marcia Simon, professor of dermatology at Stony Brook “The results were that you could actually initiate cell death

What Does UV Exposure From CFLs Mean?

To put it bluntly, premature aging and cancer. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the UK already highlighted the dangers of UVs from CFLs back in 2008.

“It can also cause skin cancer in the deadliest form, and that’s melanoma,” says dermatologist Rebecca Tung.

The HPA also highlighted that many CFLs generate flicker at about 100Hz. Whilst most people are unable to perceive this flicker, there are believed to be health consequences.

This is not to mention the potential of these bulbs for introducing high frequency noise, dirty electricity, into your house wiring, or the 5 or so milligrams of mercury found in each CFL.

So whats the solution?

What is Low EMF Safe Lighting?

Here are my recommendations for safe lighting:

1. From a purely health perspective prefer old style incandescent bulbs. They are the safest. At the time of writing you can still buy them from Amazon – click here.

2. Prefer LED bulbs to CFLs. Some versions of LEDs are safer than others. Opt for high-quality, high-efficiency LED bulbs that don’t use a transformer.

3. If you do use CFLs in your home prefer the encapsulated double envelope versions rather than the open curly wurly versions. CFLs can be suitable be used safely in places were you are not in close proximity, outdoors and in hallways.

For a full run down of the dangers of CFLs and my recommendations for low EMF lighting see my earlier article here.

  • watne said,

    I recently find fluorescent UV bulbs to be rather more at “curative” at a safe distance also these are used in horticulture so plants like them too…

    The specific data on these bulbs would be interesting like wavelengths and output spectrum if you can look at it?

  • wayne said,

    The ‘black lights’ I am speaking of…

  • Lloyd said,

    You need an ultrasound detector to measure wavelength and so on. According to David Pye (Physics World) u-shaped tube bulbs emit at 27 kHz and coiled types at 37 kHz.

  • Sharon Ingram said,

    Hi Lloyd! Thank you for your article about lightbulbs. Just read in the latest issue of the magazine for electro.sensitive people here in Sweden that, in spite of the massive drive to replace old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs with energy-efficient bulbs, there is one factor which will probably prevent the total expulsion of old-fashioned bulbs from the market, and that is saunas. Apparently the new type of bulb does not work in a sauna.

    Very few people have their own sauna, but those who do are helping to keep some form of light available to electro-sensitive people .

  • Kathairein Magdalena said,

    I have determined to use kerosene lamps, olive oil lamps and beeswax candles if I am forced by the fascist US government to use those mercury lightbulbs. If necessary I will live by the sun and moon. Period. I cannot tolerate fluorescence and wear hats and sunglasses INSIDE the stores and do my shopping as fast as possible. Whenever I stop to chat with people, I go over my time limit and kinda “loose my mind” at the cash register. I do not tolerate large stores well at all. My life shrinkens weekly, so I am planning to move as far out into the wilderness as I can get. Maybe New Mexico. Maybe trying to live in the shadow of radio telescopes The Australian Outback would be better. I have lost all attraction to civilization because I want to live well. Period.
    Thanks for your work.

  • wayne said,

    yes I feel same stuff we DO have to live with the present however and your familiar reaction is why I live in S. Arizona and to tell the truth maybe Mexico would be well to try!

    News hypes the drug wars yes but THAT issue has been a long standing one there.

    Detroit City here and many other war zones are worse.

  • kmt said,

    Hi Lloyd

    A building biologist I know who recently returned from a conference on health and lighting in Germany said that they are concerned about the blue/white light and flicker that LEDs produce (naked to the eye) he said solar powered lights with LEDS are ok (not on the mains). This could impact melatonin production, but what effects it many have on the body and eyes they do not know. Yellow and orange light is suggested to be much healthier for us especially in the evenings. I found a US company producing amber coloured glasses and screens for TVs and monitors. Look here:

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Karla
    Light late at night can significantly reduce your melatonin synthesis. The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) has classified light at night as a class 2A carcinogen (the same level of severity as tobacco smoke on lung cancer). In the two to three hours before you sleep try to minimize exposure to all forms EMFs, including artificial light. Yellow and orange lights reproduce the effect of a sunset and are therefore healthier than bright white lights at night.

  • Frank said,

    Hi Lloyd,
    Thanks for the interesting article. I use energy saving, non flickering bulbs. They don’t say if they are fluorescent or not. Do you know the safety rating of those?

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Frank
    If you don’t have the packaging then you can usually tell by the shape if its energy saving or not – see the pictures in this and my other article. Traditional incandescent bulbs get so hot you can’t touch them – CFLs and LEDs don’t get hot.

  • Joel Garson said,

    Dear Lloyd: I fogot to unplug my router last night. I had a difficult time getting to sleep, not that I ususally haven’t, yet when I started to unplug it recently, I found that I slept a bit better and my dreams were not as fogged and irradict as usual. Perhaps I’m imagining this and my sleep has always been irradict. I’m 66 and since I had some major operations some five years ago, I haven’t been able to sleep well. That may or may not have any influence. The other item I wanted to ask is are the save-a-lite, the Mercury curly ones, give out UV light? I imagine they do, but wasn’t sure. Maybe all UV light have an effect on ceullular circimstances. Thanks…Joel

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Joel
    Per my article above “Stony Brook University researchers found that the CFLs they tested emitted high levels of harmful ultraviolet radiation”. We can’t be sure that all CFLs do this…we can’t be sure they don’t either. If you are not sure, I would steer clear of mercury curly bulbs.

  • wayne said,

    @ Joel G:

    I do the same with my modem and the difference is real enough to me sir!

    Anything done to minimize electricity helps!

  • wayne said,

    Yes I work with LEDS as a project-hobby a lot … they indeed are emitting other kinds of rays; to me and are not comforting to look at over time

  • Linzi said,

    I can definitely confirm that those ‘eco’ bulbs are unsafe. For weeks my mother had a patch on her hip and on her elbow – it was dry and scaly and looked like a cross between eczema and a burn It took a long, long time to work out what was causing it. She had been sleeping on a high-sleeper bed, right under the lightbulb. As soon as the lightbulb was removed her symptoms faded too (with the help of some 100% natural moisturising cream). It has left a slight scar though. I have since stocked up on the old fashioned lightbulbs (although these can be hard to get hold of now).

  • carey said,

    i live in an old appartment in a medieval town in italy. i bought a trifield meter to measure the EMFs on a piece of land we were buying where there is a power line. only 0.2milliguass where the country house is so all ok.
    but then i took readings in the appartment – everywhere in the appartment 4 to 5 milliguass, in the bedrooms 7-10milliguass and near the windows of the bedrooms up to 100milliguass and off the scale when i lean out of the window. outside on the wall there is a huge bunch of cables running along the medieval street, also street lighting attached to the buildings. it seems worse after rain…the buildings here absorb lots of moisture.
    are there laws in italy (or europe) about EMF levels. is this dangerous?

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Carey
    Lots of different international bodies set recommendations as to whats ‘safe’…most electrical companies respect IRPA recommendations (part of the World Health Organisation). The IRPA recommendation for magnetic field exposure for the general public (this dates back to 1990) is 1000 mG. But BioInitiative Report recommendation (which reviews all the latest studies) found increased risk for childhood leukemia and other cancers at just 2 or 3mG… almost one thousand times below the safety standard, see
    The safety standards do nothing to protect us. So, yes the EMF levels you are recording are dangerous but the electric company are within their rights. Magnetic shielding is difficult/impossible. If you can move out this is the best solution.

  • Jennifer said,

    Carey, (and Lloyd)-
    I suffer from increased EMF/EMR sensitivity and am constantly on the lookout for tools to help mitigate the EMF. I wear Q-Links, 2, and am researching as well as using natural crystal pyramids and different pendants looking for those which are most cost effective. This is a growing problem as both my jobs now include overhead florescent lighting, and I spend a lot of time on my computer at home, O Joy.
    There are many “alternative” solutions out there which have been proven to block EMF.
    Perhaps moving is not necessary if you have the meter and the opportunity to test some of the devices? I would!!

  • Kathryn said,

    Well, you’ve just motivated me to hunt up my old laptop-in-the-dark led lamp so that I can turn off the CFL curly wurly over my head that allows me to see the keyboard! Now to resume reading the comments.

    Ugh…except that the led is every so white (blue?). With F.lux activated on my laptop screen the led is most unpleasant. Wonder if I can rig an orange light filter over it with some odd bit of plastic?

  • Kathryn said,

    Before I leave this page… It’s probably mentioned somewhere else on your site, but I recently found out about this free app for my laptop that changes the color hue from blue to a softer peach as the evening progresses. It does help tolerate the screen better at night (strictly from a hard-on-the-eyes perspective (and perhaps from the melatonin-inhibiting one as well, I don’t know). It’s called F.lux and it’s a free download.

  • Lloyd said,

    Yellow and orange colors are easier on the eyes at night but EMF exposures (using computers, white lights, fluorescent tubes etc) are best avoided altogether at night…..especially if you have ES symptoms.

  • Ken Ray said,

    No mention that I can find about the Full Spectrum lights I have throughout the house hoping they would be healthy for me. Any knowledge about these? They are PLF-type 27 watt bulbs.

  • Lloyd Burrell said,

    I don’t have any experience with this particular light bulb I’m afraid….if in doubt go back to incandescent bulbs.

  • Carolyn said,

    I wondered if you have tested the new incandescent light bulbs offered by this company. The company found a loophole around the regulations which ban incandescent bulbs.

    May you have a happy and pollution-free New Year!

  • Lloyd Burrell said,

    Looks interesting Carolyn – I’ve not tested them so I can’t say if they are as safe as regular incandescents .

  • Jane said,

    Hi Lloyd, websites selling “rough service” lightbulbs – these are apparently the old style bulbs but just for industrial use ( ie where more likely to be shaken or damaged ). Does any one know if these old style rough service lightbulbs cause dirty electricity like the new bulbs do?? Many thanks

  • Peter said,

    Hi Lloyd, I agree totally with the thrust of your article, with one exception – ‘CFLs can be suitable be used safely in places were you are not in close proximity, outdoors and in hallways’. We had one in a porch and when it was on it raised dirty electricity levels from about 50 to over 1800! One bulb. We know from previous incidents that it would be enough to cause problems for both my son and my partner. We do still have CFL’s outside, but they have all been tested for DE.

  • Claudia said,

    Lloyd – what about the full spectrum lignts to replace the florescent lights in my office.

  • Claudia said,

    I see a previous question about full spectrum lights and your answer that you don’t have any experience with these. These have been advertised as healthy because they mimic regular sunlight. I cannot find any info on these anywhere as far as the EMF levels generated. Would love your opinion on them

    I am sure many of your readers have them as many health conscious people use them.

  • Lloyd Burrell said,

    It’s not something I’ve covered in detail – a good idea for a future article.

  • Melissa Tonini said,

    Good Evening -I pasted the paragraph below from Joseph Mercola’s website. I am about to purchase some of these bulbs. I want to test them with my meters to REALLY see if they are low EMF. Here’s hoping….
    “Flicker-free Electronic Ballast”
    This electronic ballast reduces flicker and noise — and generates virtually no damaging electromagnetic radiation (EMF). This is yet another reason why these full spectrum lights are better than traditional fluorescents, which have a magnetic ballast that does produce hazardous EMFs.

    So, supposedly these are good for you. I have bought other helpful things from his website. I will post what I find.

  • Vinc said,

    it must be noticed that the dimmerable leds are more harmful than cfl !! cause these kind of leds have a dc converter inside !

  • Nancy said,

    My two main questions about LEDs were not answered in the article. Others in this comment section bring up the full spectrum question -what about the emfs in full spectrum LEDs? And Vinc just answered my question on what is “dimmable” LED – if they do, indeed, have a converter inside, I imagine, there’s some dirty electricity made. I look forward to more reports you do on lighting. Thanks, Lloyd!

  • Carolyn said,

    When you interviewed Donna Fisher, she (and you) mentioned that LED light bulbs without transformers are the best lighting for the home. I want to replace the bulbs I’m using in light fixtures. You both also mentioned that color therapy is beneficial to health. Would it be better to get the cooler-colored LEDs or the warmer-colored LEDs (to enhance color therapy)? Also, do you have any specs to find the right bulb to make sure I’m getting a healthy one and one that gives 75 to 100 watts? Maybe through Amazon or somewhere else. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work you are doing.

  • Jane said,

    I purchased a salt lamp after I had hired a meter to check for dirty electricity. Do you know if the tiny bulbs in the salt lamps are like old style bulbs and do they create dirty electricity.

    In reply to the lady above….warm white bulbs are best I should think as the blue light from new bright white light bulbs can affect melatonin production which in turn can affect quality of sleep (as can the blue light given off by screens like tablets and mobile phones. Hence reason you shouldn’t use them within a couple of hours of bedtime. Many thanks

  • Lloyd Burrell said,

    Carolyn – My recommendation for lighting is to privilege full spectrum lighting…..this is the lighting which is closest to that produced by nature…..which means traditional incandescents are difficult to beat….there’s an Amazon link above.

    Jane – You can check the bulb that’s in your salt lamp….look underneath and you should be able to just pull it out or unscrew it. If it’s not an incandescent replace it with one.

  • Candice said,

    I just moved into a rental that has CFL lighting in the kitchen. If I keep it turned off, it’s not emitting any EMFs right? I’m trying to find the new source of EMFs coming from the ceiling they are in. When I first moved in and kept the lights off, the EMFs in the kitchen were almost 0. Then the morning after a storm, my kitchen became high EMF. Trying to find the source!

  • Jan said,

    I have a house full of 4 ft fluorescent fixtures (4 – 2 tube and 2 – 4 tube). I’ve just become super sensitive to EMF’s. What should I replace these fixtures with? I’ve already gotten rid of all my CFL bulbs.

  • Renee said,

    Hi Lloyd,
    Just like Candace’s post – I’m also interested to learn if you have knowledge about CFL’s emitting DE while in sockets but turned off. I asked this question earlier on a different article post, but you did not address it. I’ve been searching the internet for a couple hours today and still cannot find any references to this topic — would greatly appreciate your input! I also am in a rental and there are many CFL’s in ceiling but I do not use them, just table lamps. I would have to get a ladder from my landlord to take all of them out.

  • Lyn said,

    Hi Lloyd,
    I am moving into an office which I have tested for EMFs and it’s low EMFs except for the floor. What kind of mat can I put my chair or feet on so that I can minimize my EMF exposure. I am very sensitive to EMFs!

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