Energy-Saving Light Bulbs May Be Harmful to Human Skin

Bulbs emit ultraviolet radiation due to cracks in the phosphor coatings

MONDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- Energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs emit ultraviolet radiation and may have damaging effects on skin cells, according to a study published online July 20 in Photochemistry and Photobiology.

Noting that previous studies have found that compact fluorescent light bulbs can emit significant amounts of ultraviolet radiation and exacerbate certain skin conditions, Tatsiana Mironava, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and colleagues examined the effects of compact fluorescent light on healthy human dermal fibroblasts and keratinocytes.

The researchers found that all bulbs emitted significant levels of ultraviolet-A and ultraviolet-C radiation due to cracks in the phosphor coatings. The exposed skin cells had a lower proliferation rate, greater production of reactive oxygen species, and a lower ability to contract collagen, consistent with damage from ultraviolet light. The cellular response was enhanced on addition of titanium oxide particles, which normally absorb ultraviolet radiation. Exposing the cells to incandescent light of similar intensity, where no ultraviolet emissions were observed, had no effect.

"Taken together, our results confirm that ultraviolet radiation emanating from compact fluorescent light bulbs (randomly selected from different suppliers) as a result of defects or damage in the phosphorus coating is potentially harmful to human skin," Mironava and colleagues conclude.

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