WORRIES “Low energy light bulbs are everywhere now – in shops, offices, trains, airports”, said Joan Munby
by SONIA SHARMA
Low energy light bulbs are being blamed for causing health problems, sparking calls for a change in the law. In September a European directive banned the manufacture and importation of traditional incandescent light bulbs in an effort to decrease energy consumption. As a result, old fashioned lights are being phased out and replaced with energy-saving technologies, such as compact fluorescent lamps, known as CFLs.
But, there have been suggestions people have started suffering ill effects from the modern lighting. The Spectrum Alliance, representing a a group of charities and support organisations, estimates around two million people in the UK are affected. Among them is Dr Joan Munby, an Open University tutor, of Whitley Bay.
The 57-year-old, who is also a councillor represents the Monkseaton South ward on North Tyneside Council, has photophobic migraine triggered by CFLs. Her symptoms include headaches, pain, nausea, dizziness and loss of balance, which can last for several days. Dr Munby said: “Low energy light bulbs are everywhere now- in shops, offices, trains, airports. These lights trigger my migraines. “This means I can barely shop, fill up my car’s petrol tank, travel on public transport, eat out or visit a museum, art gallery, or gym. “I usually shop on the internet and I have to go to garages where I can pay for petrol at the pump, because I can’t go inside the shops.
I have old-fashioned incandescent lights in my house. And I have a large stock of bulbs, which I bought in bulk online. “But once all current stocks are gone and these bulbs are no longer available , I will be forced to use candles. “I have been made disabled by this European legislation. I feel there should be an acceptance that some people’s lives are devastated by this and exemptions should be made to allow us to continue using incandescent lights.”
Dr Munby, who has a 21-year-old daughter, has to attend council meetings and the authority’s Quadrant building has the type of lights that trigger her migraines, so she often participates through a Skype video facility. She added: “I became aware of my symptoms around six years ago. I started to get more and more migraines. I went through a process of elimination and realised it was something to do with modern lighting. “If I was in old fashioned lights, I was always fine. “I now want to raise awareness about this issue and I would be interested to hear from other people in the region who believe they suffer from adverse health effects when they are exposed to low energy lighting.”
The charity Migraine Action is among the groups working with the Spectrum Alliance to bring changes in the law. Director Joanna Hamilton-Colclough said: “Some people are being made ill by modern lighting and have seen a major impact on their quality of life.”