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Energy-saving lamps and their impact on photosensitive and normal individuals

US National Library of Medicine 


A preliminary investigation showed that ultraviolet radiation (UVR) emissions from compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can pose a risk to the skin of photosensitive individuals.


To carry out a larger-scale study, in patients with a range of photodermatoses, to assess this risk. To determine a safe alternative light source for photosensitive individuals. To investigate if CFL emissions have the potential to induce skin responses in normal individuals.


Two hundred patients were directly exposed to a single-envelope CFL as part of their routine management. Irradiation was carried out on the inner forearm with lamps positioned at 5 cm. Skin assessments were made immediately and 24 h postirradiation. Eleven of these patients were further tested to a double-envelope CFL. One hundred and one patients were tested to emissions from a light-emitting diode (LED). A study involving 20 healthy individuals was carried out with exposure to the single-envelope CFL.


Skin erythema was induced by the single-envelope CFL in the following cases: 16 of 53 chronic actinic dermatitis, seven of 52 polymorphic light eruption, five of nine solar urticaria, one of two actinic prurigo, one of one erythropoietic protoporphyria and two of 20 healthy subjects. The double-envelope CFL eliminated or reduced the skin response in all 11 patients tested. The LED did not induce any UVR-provoked skin responses.


UVR from CFLs can aggravate the skin of photosensitive and healthy individuals when situated in close proximity. Double-envelope lamps reduce this risk. LEDs offer a safer alternative light source that eliminates the risk of UVR-induced skin erythema.

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