How safe is a bright smile

By Deborah Martinez,2014-12-28 10:34
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How safe is a bright smile


    Can energy-saving lamps affect human health?

    An assessment of the potential risks to the general population and to “light-sensitive” individuals

    Brussels, 3 June 2009. In the European Union, energy-saving lamps are increasingly replacing conventional light bulbs. However, some groups of patients, in particular “photo-sensitive”

    individuals, have claimed that the symptoms of their diseases are or could be aggravated by the presence of energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps. These claims have been explored in the recent opinion on Light Sensitivity by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) of the European Commission.

    At the request of the European Commission DG Health and Consumers, GreenFacts faithfully

     on Light Sensitivity. summarised this SCENIHR opinion

    The plain-language summary is now available from the EU Directorate General of Health and Consumers ( in four languages:

    English, French, Spanish and German. It is also available from GreenFacts (,

    a leading publisher of scientific information that was commissioned by the Directorate General to produce this and other summaries of scientific opinions.

    Highlights of the SCENIHR Opinion on Light Sensitivity

    The Scientific Committee examined the characteristics of energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in order to assess their possible contribution to the aggravation of symptoms of patients with certain diseases. The main causes for concern are the flickering, ultraviolet radiation, electromagnetic fields and blue light that these lamps produce. The Committee concluded that:

    ; There is no evidence showing that flicker and electromagnetic fields from compact

    fluorescent lamps pose a risk to the general population or to sensitive individuals.

    ; The only property of compact fluorescent lamps that could pose an added risk is the

    ultraviolet and blue light radiation emitted by such devices. In the worst case, these types

    of radiation could potentially aggravate symptoms in roughly 250 000 people across the

    EU (i.e. 1 in 2000 EU citizens) who already suffer from rare conditions that make them

    exceptionally sensitive to light.

    ; The glass envelope of compact fluorescent lamps filters out ultraviolet radiation but, in

    some cases, some UV radiation can get through. Individuals could receive significant

    amounts of ultraviolet radiation if they spend long periods of time near single-envelope

    compact fluorescent lamps (at 20 cm or less), for instance when sitting next to a table


    ; The use of double-envelope energy-saving lamps or similar technology dramatically

    reduces the amount of UV radiation emitted and would mitigate risks both for the general

    population and for light-sensitive patients.

    For further details please visit or contact

    Stephanie Mantell +32(0)2 211 34 89 Subscribe to our RSS Feed

    About GreenFacts

    GreenFacts asbl/vzw is an independent, multi-stakeholder non-profit organization based in Belgium. Our mission is to bring complex scientific reports on health and the environment to the reach of non-experts.

    We publish faithful summaries of authoritative international scientific reports. The summaries are written in a language for non-specialists and presented in a reader-friendly Three-Level Structure of increasing detail. GreenFacts’ publications are freely available in several languages on

    GreenFacts was created in 2001 by individuals from scientific institutions, environmental and health organizations, and businesses, who called for wider access to unbiased information on health and the environment.

    About the SCENIHR

    The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) was set up in 2004 by the European Commission to provide the Commission with unambiguous scientific advice on the safety of a series of issues requiring a comprehensive assessment of the risks, such as new technologies, medical devices, etc. The SCENIHR advice is intended to enable risk managers to take the adequate and required actions in order to guarantee consumer safety or public health.

    The SCENIHR addresses questions concerning emerging or newly-identified risks and on broad, complex or multi-disciplinary issues such as antimicrobial resistance, nanotechnologies, tissue engineering, blood products, fertility reduction, cancer of endocrine organs, noise and electromagnetic fields.

    About DG Health and Consumers

The role of Health and Consumers Directorate General of the European Commission is to make Europe’s

    citizens healthier, safer and more confident. Over the years the European Union has established EU laws on the safety of food and other products, on consumers' rights and on the protection of people's health. The DG Health and Consumers has the task of keeping these laws up to date.

    It also ensures that the national, regional or even local governments in EU countries apply the EU's health and consumer protection laws and make sure traders, manufacturers and food producers in their country observe the rules.

    For further details please visit or contact

    Stephanie Mantell +32(0)2 211 34 89 Subscribe to our RSS Feed

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