Could Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Pose Skin Cancer Risk?

Scientists say they found common chipping or cracking in the phosphor surface layer of nearly all the small fluorescent light bulbs they analyzed, allowing Ultra violet rays to escape. The analysis is funded by the U.S. National Technology Basis and it is published in a recently available problem of the journal Photobiology and Photochemistry.

As Americans grow more worried about environmental and energy issues, thousands have made the switch from the old incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents. The U.S. Nationwide Institutes of Health notes that the newer technology uses 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs approximately. Each compact fluorescent bulb has a phosphor coating put on its narrow glass tubing.

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The coating was created to both enhance the bulb’s luminescence capacity while at the same time absorbing UV rays that would otherwise be emitted. However the authors alert that if the bulb’s surface is riddled with “bald” spots, UV safety is lost. To see how common the problem might be, the Stony Brook team lay out to purchase several compact fluorescent light bulbs commercially available to get across the Suffolk and Nassau county regions of Long Island, N.Y.

They measured each light bulb for degrees of UV emissions, while at the same time examining each for signs of cracking in its phosphor layer. The effect: All of the bulbs, of producer or brand regardless, were found to give off “significant” degrees of both UVC and UVA rays as a result of cracks in their particular applied coatings.

Further laboratory testing revealed that whenever healthy human epidermis cells were exposed to the UV emitted from the light bulbs, damage ensued that was “consistent” with the harm typically triggered by UV radiation from the sun. By contrast, exposure to incandescent bulbs of similar strength prompted no pores and skin cell damage. Rafailovich said it’s amazing that a situation has arisen whatsoever.

In any case, each day is a good way to keep the UV away one dermatologist believes using sunscreen, whatever the foundation. Dr. William Ting is a private practice dermatologist and medical director of California Dermatology Care in San Ramon, Calif. Dr. Darrell Rigel, a scientific professor of dermatology at NYU Langone INFIRMARY in NEW YORK. The American Lighting Association, an industry group representing light bulb manufacturers, did not respond to HealthDay requests for comment.

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