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Home & garden.

6 July 2021

Your energy-saving light bulb concerns

All your energy-saving light bulb concerns answered and myths busted.
Haddi Browne
Lightbulbs 7

There are lots of concerns and misconceptions surrounding energy-saving light bulbs, and you may be worried about using them. Here, we look at a few of the common concerns and dispel the myths.

Do energy-saving CFL light bulbs cause cancer?

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) issued a warning in October 2008 about some energy-saving light bulbs emitting higher levels of UV radiation than guidelines suggest is safe.

It suggests, as a precaution, that spiral and tube-type energy-saving CFL light bulbs shouldn’t be used for more than one hour a day when people are less than 30cm away from the bulb, such as a desk lamp. Instead, you should switch to globe-style bulbs, or move the lamp further away.

The HPA is keen to point out that CFL light bulbs won't cause skin cancer. Sitting very close to a light bulb that emits more than the recommended amount of UV light has similar effects to going outside on a sunny day – so some caution is recommended.

But there’s no need to panic and replace CFL light bulbs.

Do CFL light bulbs cause migraines?

Some migraine support groups, such as the Migraine Action, have raised this as a concern.

The Department of Health has said in response: 'The Department is aware of concern from migraine support groups that the use of some energy-saving light bulbs could potentially affect migraine sufferers. We're continuing to work with clinicians and support groups regarding the nature and extent of any reported health effects, and bring influence to bear where appropriate.'

It also said that avoiding bulbs that have more than one outer surface, such as stick-shaped bulbs, can lessen the risks for migraine sufferers.

Can CFL light bulbs trigger epilepsy?

The charity Epilepsy Action has some anecdotal reports from people who believe ill-effects, such as headaches and dizziness, have been caused by energy-saving light bulbs.

It has said: 'Epilepsy Action isn't aware of any evidence that low-energy light bulbs can directly trigger epileptic seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy. However, we have been contacted by a number of people with epilepsy who believe that energy-saving light bulbs have impacted on their condition.

'We aren't able to quantify how many people with epilepsy are affected by these bulbs or say definitively how energy-saving light bulbs may affect people with epilepsy. We're asking the government to confirm that ordinary light bulbs will still be available for people with epilepsy, should they have concerns about the use of energy-efficient light bulbs and their epilepsy. We will continue to monitor the situation.'

I’ve heard that energy-saving bulbs contain mercury. Should I be worried?

No. LEDs and halogens don’t contain any mercury at all, and the small amount used in modern CFLs is very low. All the CFLs we tested were well within safety limits.

Click to view our Best Buy light bulbs.

Will LED lighting make me go blind?

Absolutely not. Domestic LED lighting isn't even close to being high energy enough to have any impact on your eyes.