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Elecromagnetic Radiation: CFL vs LED vs Incandescent
02-27-2012, 03:05 AM,
RE: Elecromagnetic Radiation: CFL vs LED vs Incandescent
The mercury in CFL Bulbs (as yeti pointed out) has always been a concern for me.

The Canadian Centre Occupational Health and Safety has the following stance on the Hz of bulbs, but only in relation to flicker.

Quote:Can you actually see lights flicker?

It depends on the frequency of the flicker. People can see lights flashing on and off up to about 50 flashes per second (50 Hz) - they are most sensitive to time-varying illumination in the 10-25 Hz range. The actual critical flicker frequency increases as the light intensity increases up to a maximum value, after which it starts to decrease. When a light is flickering at a frequency greater than 50 or so Hertz, most people can no longer distinguish between the individual flickers. At this frequency - the critical flicker frequency or flicker fusion threshold - the flashes appear to fuse into a steady, continuous source of light. This happens because the response to the light stimulus lasts longer than the flash itself.

People cannot notice the flicker in fluorescent lights that have a flicker rate of 120 cycles per second (or 120 Hz).

The light flicker may be detected by its stroboscopic effect.

Are there any health effects associated with light flicker?

Although humans cannot see fluorescent lights flicker, the sensory system in some individuals can somehow detect the flicker. Ever since fluorescent lighting was introduced in workplaces, there have been complaints about headaches, eye strain and general eye discomfort. These complaints have been associated with the light flicker from fluorescent lights. When compared to regular fluorescent lights with magnetic ballasts, the use of high frequency electronic ballasts (20,000 Hz or higher) in fluorescent lights resulted in more than a 50% drop in complaints of eye strain and headaches. There tended to be fewer complaints of headaches among workers on higher floors compared to those closer to ground level; that is, workers exposed to more natural light experienced fewer health effects. [Wilkins, A. J., Nimmo-Smith, I., Slater, A. & Bedocs, L. (1989). Fluorescent lighting, headaches and eye-strain. Lighting Research and Technology, vol. 21, 11-18]

What can be done to reduce or eliminate light flicker?

Some types of ballasts can reduce flicker considerably. New, energy-efficient electronic ballasts take the 60 Hz power and convert it to voltages at a much higher frequency (20,000 - 60,000 Hz). The resulting flicker frequency (twice the supplied power frequency, 40 -120 kHz) is so high that the human eye cannot detect any fluctuation in the light intensity - essentially flicker-free.
Full Text:

So CFLs act as a ballast to hide flicker rates, whether they are perceptible (sub)consciously is not disclosed.

I don't use them for the risk of creating a mercury spill hazard if it breaks (or evaporates**)? Not that I think there would be much of a health risk (mercury in a CFL Bulb but cleanup can be costly if mandated and/or necessary.

Best practice is to vacate the room immediately and open the windows for a 8-24 hours. Carpeting may present a different challenge.

US EPA Guidelines

EPA estimates that 4-5 milligrams (mg) of Mercury are present in a typical CFL.

** Breathing elemental mercury into your lungs is generally more dangerous than if you ate the mercury or absorbed it through your skin. Once inhaled, the mercury vapour can damage the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver. (ref)

Aside from mercury and flicker rate (maybe), another potential property of compact fluorescent lamps is that they could pose an added health risk is the ultraviolet and blue light emitted for people with high UV sensitivity (ref).

A lot of cities (like Calgary on the advice of ENMAX Energy) are still recommending saving energy by using CFL light bulbs instead of incandescent lighting.

As far as LED lighting the only issue I have found with it so far is that they are all made in China. I was going to enter in a partnership to sell them online but they wouldn't provide me photos of the working conditions so that was a deal killer for me.

David Dees' Original Image available here:

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a great related documentary.

The Lightbulb Conspiracy (2010)
There are no others, there is only us.

Messages In This Thread
RE: Elecromagnetic Radiation: CFL vs LED vs Incandescent - FastTadpole - 02-27-2012, 03:05 AM

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