PITTSBURGH (CBS) — Every time you turn on the lights, you may be putting yourself at risk, according to a disturbing new study.
Energy efficient bulbs are eco-friendly and can save you big bucks, but experts say they could also have a dark side.
“When there is something in your house, you don’t perceive any danger, you wouldn’t get that close to an x-ray in a doctor’s office,” explained Miriam Rafailovich, Professor of Materials Science at Stony Brook.
Money-saving, compact fluorescent light bulbs emit high levels of ultra violet radiation, according to a new study. Research at Long Island’s Stony Brook University found that the bulbs emit rays so strong that they can actually burn skin and skin cells.
“The results were that you could actually initiate cell death,” said Marcia Simon, a Professor of Dermatology.
Exposure to the bulbs could lead to premature aging and skin cancer, according to doctors.
“It can also cause skin cancer in the deadliest form, and that’s melanoma,” said Dr. Rebecca Tung.
In every bulb that researchers tested, they found that the protective coating around the light creating ‘phosphor’ was cracked, allowing dangerous ultraviolet rays to escape.
Homeowners expressed concern over the effect that the bulbs could have on children.
“That’s very unfortunate because the kids are getting exposed to so many different things at a younger age,” said Vicky Cobb.
As the federal government phases out the old incandescent bulbs in favor of compact fluorescents, customers will no longer have a choice over which bulb they use.
“Now that you’re telling me there’s a health risk, I really don’t think it’s fair that they would not sell the other kind of light bulbs,” said Cobb.
The compact fluorescent industry claims that the bulbs are safe, but admitted that they emit ultraviolet rays. The industry released a statement that said “the levels of UV radiation emitted are acceptably low,” and that they are safe under normal use.
Stony Brook researchers advised that customers exercise caution and stay two feet away from the bulbs at all times, while storing them in an overhead fixture or lamp.