How to choose healthy indoor lighting

Now that we’re into October, it’s staying dark for a bit longer in the mornings and getting dark earlier in the evenings. We’ll make use of more and more indoor lighting as we move ahead into winter over the next six months. With that being said, it’s a good time to review which light bulbs you should use in your home  and which to avoid  to support good health.

We’ve safely and successfully made use of Edison’s incandescent bulb for nearly 140 years. His bulb mirrors the visible radiation of the sun and casts a soft glow. I even added dimmer switches for my incandescent lighting, so that in the evenings, they cast a very soft, almost candle-like glow.

By comparison, the ugly, “curly-cue,” compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) can hurt your eyes. Plus, the logic used to develop CFLs is as twisted as their shape.

First, there’s the false-promise of improved energy efficiency. It takes so long for CLFs to warm up, you typically don’t need them by the time they’re actually bright enough to light the room, closet, or stairway.

One environmental ninny from a “green” international organization advised me to turn CFLs on 15 minutes in advance. But that advice assumes I’d know 15 minutes in advance whenever I needed something. Plus, am I really going to turn lights on that far in advance when I just want to illuminate an area for a minute or two?

How is that supposed to be “energy efficient?”

It’s my guess CFL bulbs last longer probably because you don’t even bother to use them much of the time.

(That advisor was an international health and environmental planner, so predicting what would be needed in the next 15 minutes must’ve been child’s play for him, compared to predicting the climate a century from now. I would settle for them accurately predicting tomorrow’s weather.)

In addition, CFL bulbs are full of toxic mercury. And you can’t dispose of them safely into the environment (according to another branch of the EPA) when they do eventually burn out.

On top of it all, CFLs don’t provide the healthy wavelengths of light the body needs. Instead, as the name suggests, CFLs emit fluorescent light, contributing to mood disorders and health problems.

By comparison, infrared light (found in sunlight and normal incandescent light bulbs) has many helpful health benefits.

It’s time to see the light

For one, infrared light stimulates cells in the retina of the eye to help support repair and regeneration. The heat given off from an incandescent bulb (which experts deride as inefficient) is also healthy.

Second, infrared light plays a role in energy production. In fact, a light-absorbing enzyme is the last key step before energy produced in the cellular mitochondria can be stored in ATP molecules. Fortunately, infrared light in sunlight and incandescent lighting activates this enzyme.

Ironically, experts worry about sunlight causing aging, but it’s actually the exact opposite. Getting natural sunlight prevents aging at the cellular level. And when you’re indoors, having infrared light is a viable alternative.

Government replaces one bad bulb with another

The government seems to now admit the dangers of CFLs. And they suggest replacing them with LED (light emitting diode) lights. But using these bulbs also has major health consequences.

In fact, unlike incandescent lighting, LED bulbs have more blue light and less infrared light. And blue light carries higher electromagnetic radiation energy.

(Planck’s constant states that electromagnetic energy is proportional to frequency. High frequency, short wavelength blue light has more energy than does low-frequency, long-wavelength infrared light.)

Blue light also generates more reactive oxygen species (ROS, free radicals, or oxidants), which like ionizing radiation, damages cells and DNA. Blue light also interferes with melatonin and the normal circadian rhythm.

Finally, the flickering of CFL and LED bulbs can cause dizziness, headaches, malaise, and disturbing anomalies of perception. The old florescent bulbs had diminution of about 35 percent of light intensity with each flicker. The new LED bulbs lose 100 percent of their brightness with each flicker. And they flicker hundreds of times per second.

This fall, I suggest you replace any CLFs and LEDs in your home with regular old incandescent bulbs with dimmers. Or better yet, go back to burning fragrance-free candles. Candle light gives an even better spectrum of light for your eyesight and your health.


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