Health Effects of Artificial Light
7. Are there potential health risks linked to artificial lights?
All healthy individuals may be at some risk from UV radiation
and blue light from indoor lighting, albeit to different degrees
due to differences in genetic background and in the type of
light source used. Short-term UV effects are negligible and
long-term risks can only be estimated. Using worst case
scenarios, regular exposure in school and at work to safe lamps
with the highest levels of UV emission would add a dose of UV
similar to a 3 to 5 days holiday in a sunny location. Most lamps
would contribute considerably less.
As a very rough estimate, 250000 people in the EU have
disorders that can be brought on or aggravated by light, and are
particularly affected by light sources that emit UV or blue
light. For this group of people, double-envelope CFLs is
preferable to single-cover ones, and retrofit LEDs may be even
better. Irradiation from lamps is highly variable so individuals
with photosensitive diseases may need a list of lamp models that
are suitable for their specific case.
Several knowledge gaps have been identified:
- Manufacturer’s data on the detailed light spectrum from
every lamp model.
- Risk categories for lamps that include long-term risk of
developing squamous cell carcinoma
- Exposure data to UV and blue light from indoor lamps
- Effect of long-term exposure to artificial light on the
retina, including epidemiological studies.
- Effect of UVC on skin diseases
- Role of artificial light in the disruption of circadian
- Health effects of flicker