What are the hidden dangers of using CFLs?

How to handle and dispose of Compact Fluorescent Lights

Lighting energy efficiency has been a major concern in Australia lately. This year, for instance, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Department decided to phase out and replace inefficient halogen lamps with better alternatives such as LEDs or CFLs.

If you’re looking for an energy efficient lighting solution, CFLs are probably amongst your top choices. However, there is a hidden danger sealed inside each inoffensive bulb that requires special handling and disposal. 

How can CFLs potentially affect your health?

At first glance, Compact Fluorescent Lights may seem a great energy efficient alternative for both domestic and commercial environments. But you should know there are a few important factors to consider when using a CFL bulb.

  • Mercury content

Generally, CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, which is an essential component of their operation. Whilst it is not something to really worry about, it does become a real threat if the bulb cracks or breaks.

  • Ultraviolet (UV) emissions

According to an Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency study, CFLs emit slightly more UV light than incandescent bulbs. Based on the results, the UV levels from the CFLs measured at a distance of 10 centimetres over a period of 8 hours were equivalent to spending approximately 6 minutes in the Brisbane midday summer sun. This means that some people with severe light sensitivity may be affected by the UV emitted from a bare CFL.

  • The CFL ‘flicker’

In general, CFLs operate at a frequency of over 20,000 on/off cycles per second, while the modern linear fluorescent tubes – 5000 times per second. In other words, they should not be detectable by the human brain.

However, there have been several cases of reactions to linear fluorescent tube flicker recorded. In most cases, it was because older technology that operates at a much lower frequency than modern fluorescent lamps. If there is a noticeable flicker, then it may cause, in rare cases, photosensitive epilepsy, Ménière’s disease or migraines.

How to use CFLs safely

Fortunately, there are a few actions you can take in order to reduce the risks of Compact Fluorescent Lights, like:

  • Minimise CFL UV light exposure

First of all, we recommend you to install CFLs more than 25 centimetres away from people (i.e. in ceiling fittings).  You should also keep in mind that UV levels rapidly decrease as you move further away from any light source. Plus, by doubling the distance between yourself and the lamp, you can reduce UV levels by 75%. Together with this, use filtering methods, like enclosed lamp fixtures or reflection methods (indirect lighting).

  • Pay attention to CFL bulbs disposal

Although the mercury content of CFLs is small, you must handle every Compact Fluorescent Light bulb with care. But if a CFL breaks you should follow some simple, safety procedures:

  • open nearby windows and doors to ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes
  • use disposable gloves and brush to clean up the broken bulb and wipe up any remaining fragments with a moist paper towel
  • finally, seal them in a plastic bag for safe disposal in your general waste bin
  • Replace your CFL bulbs with LEDs

Last but not least, you should consider LEDs  as an alternative. Since they don’t emit UV radiation, it is strongly recommended for people with photosensitive skin disorders.

Not only they are harmless to the human body but they are also friendly with the environment due to the energy efficiency factor.

Talk to Jaric Electrical about CFL lighting

You can use Compact Fluorescent Lights for your domestic or commercial needs as long as you follow the simple safety procedures we’ve talked about. That way, you will keep yourself and the ones around you safe while enjoying the qualities of CFL lighting.

To find out more, speak to the expert team at Jaric on 1300 452 742 or contact us online.

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