Naturally we gravitate towards purchasing light bulbs that are energy efficient, long lasting or perhaps the best for our budget. It is not just a matter of choosing a light source but knowing exactly what we are being exposed to when doing so.
Certain artificial lights expose us to harmful UV radiation, radio frequency radiation. This can have a negative effect on our overall health by damaging negative skin cells, eye problems with damaging the retina, causing headaches, disrupting hormone function and most importantly putting us at risk for cancer.
Amongst the choices out there of light bulbs (incandescent, halogen, LED and CFL), it has been found that incandescent light bulbs are the best option for our health, halogen being the second option. Here is a breakdown of some pros and cons of each:
- Good color rendering: CRI of 100 which is the best possible
- Not energy efficient (90% of energy goes to heat, 10% makes visible light)
- Average lamp life: 750 – 1000 hrs (standard household bulb)
- More efficient than incandescents, can produce more light using the same amount of power
- The bulb is filled with a halogen gas that keeps the tungsten filament from burning down which poses a higher risk for a fire
LED (light-emitting diodes)
- Great for energy efficiency
- Have ideal color rendering of light
- Long lamp life compared to others
- Exposure to EMF radiation
- Most expensive type of light bulb
- Emits shorter-wavelength visible light (blue and violet light) which puts someone at risk for macular degeneration which can lead to blindness after chronic exposure (i.e. starring at electronic device for too long like a computer screen or cell phone.) DefenderShield has created blue light blocking glasses to help mitigate this exposure and reduce the risk.
- In the UCI January 2011 issue of Environmental Science & Technology it was found that “Lead, arsenic and many additional metals discovered in the bulbs or their related parts have been linked in hundreds of studies to different cancers, neurological damage, kidney disease, hypertension, skin rashes and other illnesses.”
CFL (compact fluorescent light)
- Energy efficient
- May be dimmable but need to make sure that the dimmer switch is rated for use with CFLs
- Not as great of a color light quality as incandescent
- If they have to be installed upside down (i.e. a porch lamp) it shortens the life of the bulb
- Contain mercury! When a bulb breaks in your home, some of this mercury may be released as mercury vapor. Needs special care when cleaning up a broken CFL lightbulb. Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment. Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one and leave off for several hours. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
The sad truth is that regardless of how much research is out there to support how incandescent or halogen light bulbs are the best for our health, electricity companies are still out there promoting rebates and encouraging their consumers to switch them out for their energy efficient counterparts in order to save money. As we know our health should be our largest investment. If we proactively make changes now to ensure our well-being, we are likely to save thousands of dollars in the future on medical office visits, prescriptions, dealing with chronic conditions or yet worse cancer. Sure you may need to replace these light bulbs more frequently than others but that is a small price to pay in comparison.
When shopping for light bulbs look out for this label with the lighting facts. If a lightbulb contains mercury the label will clearly indicate it.
Tip: If you are looking for a way to still save on electricity, using outlet timers are the perfect way to not only save energy but also reduce the amount of EMFs (electromagnetic fields) you are exposed to within you home during sleep hours. This can also help you achieve a better level of deep sleep as melatonin levels are less disrupted.