Do Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) produce a hazardous amount of UV light?

Most light sources, including fluorescent bulbs, emit a small amount of UV light, but the UV light produced by fluorescent light bulbs is far less than the amount produced by natural daylight. The glass and the coating inside the glass used in CFLs already provides a UV filtering effect and any additional glass, plastic or fabric used in the light fixture that is between you and the CFL further reduces the already low levels of UV.

CFLs are very energy efficient, using approximately one quarter of the energy compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. CFLs also have a very long lifespan, typically 6000- 15,000 hours compared to the 750-1,000 hours for a normal incandescent bulb, so they save energy and replacements over many years.


The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) has published a series of standards relating to radiation emissions from general purpose lighting. If a CFL were to exceed allowable levels of UV (according to IESNA RP 27.3), its packaging would be required to be labeled with a caution label. This standard, which was developed with the assistance of the FDA, requires lamp manufacturers to provide a suitable caution if one is warranted. At typical use distances, UV levels from CFLs fall below the level of general concern for normal, healthy individuals and therefore carry no such warning.


Manufacturers of CFLs are subject to CFR 21 part 1002.20, which requires CFL manufacturers to report accidental radiation incidents should any occur. In addition, CFR part 1003.10 requires manufacturers to notify FDA in the event of a product defect or failure which would result in an accidental exposure incident.


Unless you are one of the few individuals who have a medical condition (such as some forms of Lupus) that makes you particularly sensitive to either UV or even visible light, you should be able to use these lamps at the same distance as you would use traditional incandescent lamps. The vast majority of people do not suffer from such UV or visible light sensitivities. Only your physician can make such a diagnosis.




Additional resources are provided

http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/HomeBusinessandEntertainment/ucm116400.htm
Study by Health Canada
http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/sites/oee.nrcan.gc.ca/files/pdf/residential/personal/pdf/hc-cfl-executive-summary-2009-12-21-final-eng.pdf
The National Electrical Manufacturer's Association (NEMA):
http://www.nema.org/stds/LSD7.cfm

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Topic Information
  • Topic #: 23002-15105
  • Date Created: 12/4/2007
  • Last Modified Since: 8/10/2012
  • Viewed: 14030
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