Mind Body & Spirit exhibition, Paphos 2007  by Samantha-S. Kruse

Compact Fluorescent Light  (CFL)

 in german spoken countries called „energy saving lamps/bulbs“

To understand the differences between the types of bulbs -  we need to know more about our ordinary ones.

The traditional incandescent bulb

Most lamps are incandescent. This means they give off light because they are hot. A typical electric light bulb is a glass globe with a very thin piece of wire inside. The thin wire, called a filament, gets extremely hot when electricity flows through it. Now, hot things often give off light. Fires, for example, look red when the temperature reaches about 950 degrees Celsium (1750 degrees F) If it gets hotter still, about 2500°C (4500°F) it will glow with a bright, white light. The filament in a light bulb looks white because it is glowing white hot.

If making light is our only objective, any heat we make is wasted energy. In fact, an incandescent bulb wastes about 90 percent of the electricity it uses by getting hot.

BUT: Most of the times we use the lamps not only when it is dark. We use them when it is cold in spring, autumn and winter. In these times we have to heat the house as well. The waste heat of the incandescent bulbs is no longer a loss of heat they are used to heat the rooms! THIS IS CALLED THE HEAT REPLACEMENT EFFECT.

The British organisation “the market Transformation Programme” gives advice to the government regarding a better use of natural resources. This organisation studies the heat replacing effect since 1999 and came to the conclusion with long calculations depending on consumption of electricity and gas or oil - using CLFs you will save only a few cents per month……….

But more important for our health is :                                                            The incandescent bulb gives us the most natural light, we can get from artificial resources. It has nearly the same spectrum of light as the sun. That makes us feel comfortable.


Let us have a closer look now at the CFL (compact fluorescent lamp)

A few technical details:

The low energy light bulb is a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) or tube.

They are the twisted looking replacement that should use  -as little as one fourth-  the power of their common incandescent counterparts and supposed to last much longer. In most of the European countries and the USA traditional incandescent bulbs are set to be completely phased out by 2012. They are being adopted worldwide in an effort to reduce energy consumption.

Energy-saving lights save energy by making light without the heat using a completely different process called fluorescence

So, in short, fluorescent lights make their energy in a three-step process:

1.      Electrodes take electrical energy from the power supply and generate moving electrons.

2.      The moving electrons collide with mercury atoms in the tubes to make ultraviolet light.

3.      The white phosphor coating of the tubes converts the ultraviolet light into visible light (that we can see).

The bulbs work in the same way as the long, traditional fluorescent tube lights seen in many commercial establishments. This means that they produce light that subtly flickers, unnoticeable by many, but a big problem for others, especially epileptics, who can suffer from seizures under fluorescent bulbs. They flicker not only in lower frequencies but also with higher frequencies because of the integrated electronic. (show picture  1 of parts and bulb) From the outside – you can see two main sections….. the Inside is more complicating…..

It’s like lots of flashlights for the brain though our eyes cannot see it. It is causing permanent stress which can lead to headaches and migranes, dizziness etc..


Extensive and detailed measurements showed that not only the intensity but the quality of the field has disturbing frequencies and unclear frequencies. It shows a sine curve which is not even clear.

Only CFLs consists of pulsed 100 hertz frequencies because of the integrated electronic. They have the same Pulsfrequence as the portable phones. The risk for heart and circulation diseases, cancer, diabetes, Osteoporoses is higher because of the changes of nerve- and hormone signals. (In the internet you find a Daily Mail video report stating health experts in the UK that the CFLs can cause migraine headaches and other disconcerting symptoms in many people)

Ultrasound noise which can be measured with Ultrasound microphones is send out by the switching power supply. Very sensitive people can hear the frequencies of  40 kHz. They can cause a variety of problems in the head area.

Like all fluorescent lamps CFLs contain mercury which complicates their disposal. The mercury as vapour is inside the glass tubing. The EU law allows up to 5 mg mercury per CFL. Cheap priced CFLs made in China, have been tested to contain more than 15 mgs per bulb and even that differs from bulb to bulb. (Production would cost much more  if they would have to use a precise machinery for filling the exact amount)(The company Philips advertise that they use a special developed capsule that ensures the exact amount of 3,8 mg of mercury is filled in each capsule and attached to the lamp cathode.)

Mercury is a very toxic substance even in low doses. Inhaling mercury vapour is found to cause certain symptoms such as headaches, memory loss and sleeplessness. It has harmful effects on kidneys, thyroid glands and heart. It is a neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to the developing nervous system in embryos and young children.

The EU commission for health is aware of it and plans to ban mercury by 2013 because of the huge health risks even for small amounts. There will be an exception for bulbs………

In some EU countries for example in Germany dentists are obliged to refuse to put in Amalgam dental-fillings if the patient is pregnant, or suffers from any chronic disease as rheumatism or asthma. (One Amalgam-filling contains 100 times more mercury than a CFL bulb.)

Spectrum of light

For economic reasons only two colours are produced which being combined shall give us the impression of white light. But they are only blue and yellow colours and nothing else. Using these lamps in a room gives a wrong interpretation to the real colour and red colours look greyish under such bulbs.

No name bulbs are even worse. The producer don’t follow any criteria for quality. The mixing ratio of blue and yellow is not constant and bulbs of the same no name company differ and some produce more yellowish and some more bluish light. Far away from a white colour……(show pic.2 spikes of colour)

Impacts on the Health

Too much blue colour in the light and missing red in the spectrum releases stress hormones and reduces significant the production of the hormone Melatonin. Sleeping disorders will follow because our inner clock looses it rhythm….


Fluorescent bulbs can damage paintings and textiles which have light-sensitive dyes and pigments. Strong colors will tend to fade on exposure to UV light.

           The British Association of Dermatologists stated that people with sensitive skin have painful sensations when being exposed close to CFL bulbs. 340.000 persons in Great Britain suffer under sensitive skin with skin diseases as Dermatitis, Lupus erythematodes, Eczema ….and therefore under influence of CFLs.

Meanwhile the standards and limits regarding radiation/emission set up by the governing body of the Swedish Union for employees are applied within the whole of Europe. All CFLs  on the market exceed the limit of 10 Volt per meter 3 – 6,5 times when measured in a distance of 30 centimeters. That is why they ask to keep a minimum distance of 1,5 meters from any energy saving bulb. (so no sense to use them on the bedside table or on the desk!) For sensitive and chronic ill people the distance should be much bigger is the request from docters.

If you have more than one CFL in the same room switched on, they even accumulate the radiaton because their frequency swings individual.

Environmentally friendly ?

Because of the containing mercury it should be disposed separated from the normal trash. It is not only the mercury with its toxicity; all other electronic parts such as transformer and capacitor are waste and can’t be recycled.

When being produced CFL need a higher expenditure (efford) for production because of its complex compound. The route of transportation is longer since they are not produced within Europe. The majority is produced in Asia.

(By the way: Internet is killing the climate: one search request at google needs as much electricity as a 11 Watt  CFL per hour !)


Durability ? Economic ?

CFL are in need of a controlled climate to show their full brightness. With temperatures around 40 degrees their lifespan is drastically reduced as well as with temperatures around 0 degrees.  CFLs exhibit shorter lifespan in light fixtures and sockets where there is low air-flow and heat build up such as recessed lighting.

Fluorescent lamps get dimmer over their lifetime, so what starts out as an adequate luminosity may become inadequate. In tests done by the US Department of Energy more than one quarter of tested CFLs no longer met their rated output after 40% of their rated service life.

The advertising tells us that we safe energy because a 75 Watt ordinary bulb can be replaced by a  15 Watt CLF. If you compare the light efficiency on the carton box indicated as CD (candelar) you find 335 candelar are 15 Watt of a CFL. In the catalogue of the ordinary bulbs is listed 100 Watt has 660 candelar. But that means you need to buy a CFL with the double power as indicated to have the same light as with the ordinary bulb. Knowing this, the results on the economic balance for the CFLs are swept away……


The durability and life span is much depending on how and where you use the CFL. Only if the CFLs are switched on for a minimum of 15 minutes they will prove their durability. They are therefore not recommended to be placed in bathrooms, stairways and other places where they will not be left on for a steady period..

Extensive tests among 6 leading manufacturers of CFL bulbs showed that 10 out of 15 CFL bulbs failed to work between 1500 and 3000 hours of work (45 minutes on and 15 minutes switched off)


To produce a CFL bulb 10 times more energy is needed than to produce an ordinary bulb. And this does not include the energy with is needed for the production of the starter unit.……


Within the production process high risks exist for the workers handling the mercury. In Chinese factories a high percentage of workers became ill of mercury poisoning in recent years and had to be hospitalized.

Handling and Disposal of CFLs

The mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs poses no threat while in the bulb, but if you break one:
- open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more
- use a wet rag to clean it up and put all of the pieces, and the rag, into a glass jar which you can seal
- place the jar with all materials in a sealed plastic bag
- call your municipality to see if they accept this material, otherwise put it in your local trash. Wash your hands afterward.

Burned out CFLs can be dropped off at Ikea stores, one is in Nicosia. .

Precautions and Alternatives:

Keep a 4 meters distance to any CLF when in use – same refers to the tubes!!!!

If you cannot do this, exchange them either for halogen lamps (as long as they will be on the market available) or get a stock of the traditional bulbs.

Or:  fix absorption ampoules on the frame of your lamp, 2 ampoules for a 40 Watt CFL reduces the radiation to about 0,80 centimeters. (Varies a bit from manufactor to manufactor of the bulbs)


Most common symptoms through CFLs: starting already a few minutes after being exposed to fluorescent light.

Headaches, Migraine, pressure on the head, condition as under narcotic, lack of energy, weakness, nausea, cold hand and feet, trembling, swollen eyes, lack of concentration,  nausea in solar plexus, releases eczema, advances caries, reduces learning capacity, encourages aggression, painful skinreactions with people suffering from autoimmune diseases