Health Hazards of Fluorescent Lighting

Known effects and their likely causes

The following is a list of symptoms and diseases known to be linked to exposure to fluorescent lighting:

  • Headache, eyestrain, eye irritation, fatigue, difficulty in concentration, increased rate of ‘misjudgments’ and accidents, malaise and irritability can be caused by noise, glare and flicker from fluorescent lighting.

  • Increased stress (which may in turn lead to heart disease) can arise from increasing the intensity of artificial light with fluorescent tubes. It has been shown that increased use of artificial light (rather than natural light) affects the levels of hormones in the body, particularly the hormones associated with stress, such as cortisol.

  • Variation in brightness, as provided by daylight, is necessary for the normal functioning of the body’s rhythms. The monotonous illumination of fluorescent lighting may also add to the changes in hormone production.

  • Allergic skin reactions and dermatitis can be caused by exposure to fluorescent lights. An unknown number of people suffer from ‘cutaneous light sensitivity’ due to fluorescent lights. This means that not only can they become allergic to fluorescent lighting but they can become more sensitive to ordinary sunlight.

  • Certain long-term, mild skin diseases can become worse if the sufferer is exposed to fluorescent light. Some medical drugs (including some tranquilizers, antibiotics, heart drugs and diuretics) can make you particularly sensitive to UV radiation (photosensitivity). Skin eruptions then occur even with the small doses of UV (in the 300-320nm wavelength range) emitted by white fluorescent lights.

  • Hyperactivity has been linked to the flickering produced by fluorescent lighting. Microwave emissions from fluorescent lighting are also suspected of contributing to these behavioral disorders. Other mild behavioral disorders in children may be made worse by working at school under fluorescent lighting.

Suspected effects

There is also some evidence that the following effects may be caused by exposure to fluorescent lights:

  • Increased risk of seizure in epilepsy sufferers

  • Higher incidence of miscarriage

  • Speeding up the aging of the retina

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  • 3jpeg-1.gifReprinted from J&J Herbs
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One Response

  1. I am very concerned about the recent move to impose the use of fluorescent lighting by law in several states and provinces in the US and Canada. I suffer from narcolepsy, which can be acute when working under fluorescent lighting. I have at times noticed a sensation of fatigue in stores and shopping malls with excessive and low hanging fluorescents. The sensation at times is immediate. They affect my ability to concentrate and complete mental tasks, as well as contributing to sleep episodes. My question… are there any campaigns or research studies ongoing with respect to proposed changes in Canada or the States? I live in Ontario Canada.


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