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Eco bulbs emit skin-damaging UV radiation, health experts warn

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Some energy-saving light bulbs emit ultraviolet radiation that could be harmful if placed too close to the skin, health experts warned today.

New research has found that some unencapsulated fluorescent light bulbs – where the shape of the coil is clearly visible – emit UV radiation that could make the skin red if used for long periods of time closer than 30cm (one foot) to the body.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) issued the warning to people who use a reading lamp or desk lamp close to their body and the tens of thousands of people suffering from medical conditions that make them sensitive to UV light.

People whose work involves close work with their hands under a light bulb, such as jewellery makers, could also be affected.


The HPA said people should not use the light bulb closer than 30cm to the body for more than an hour a day or should switch to an encapsulated style of energy saving light bulb, where the outer layer of glass looks more like a traditional bulb.

But it said families should not remove energy saving light bulbs from their homes, explaining that there was no risk of skin cancer.

The agency’s chief executive Justin McCracken said: ‘We are not saying these could cause cancer.