WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Scientists at Stony Brook University claim that eco-friendly compact fluorescent light bulbs, while beneficial for the Earth, could prove harmful to humans.
According to a study published in Photochemistry and Photobiology, cracks were found in the phosphor coating on the majority of bulbs examined by researchers.
“[T]he coating is brittle and has trouble making the tight bends required to make these bulbs compact,” the study’s lead author, Miriam Rafailovich, told KDFW-4.
The compromised surfaces reportedly allowed for harmful ultraviolet rays – the same type emitted by the sun – to pass through, creating a risk for indoor workers positioned under the bulbs.
“[S]kin cells exposed to … emissions [from these bulbs] showed the same damage as those exposed to [ultraviolet] light,” Rafailovich, who teaches materials science and engineering while serving as director of the Polymers at Engineered Interfaces at Stony Brook University, added.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs also post a risk if the glass itself breaks, due to small amounts of mercury contained within the tubing.
“Mercury is an essential part of [compact fluorescent light bulbs, as] it allows the bulb to be an efficient light source,” a fact sheet released by Energy Star reads. “No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact (not broken) or in use.”
If broken, Energy Star recommends airing out the room in which the bulb broke and evacuating people and pets, as well as shutting down any central air conditioning systems.