Home » Energy Saving Lamps » Glossary

Energy-Saving Lamps & Health


Glossary over Energy-Saving Lamps & Health


The process of taking in. For a person or an animal, absorption is the process of a substance getting into the body through the eyes, skin, stomach, intestines, or lungs. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )


Actinic prurigo

Actinic prurigo is a chronic, intensely itchy skin disease due to an abnormal reaction to sunlight (photosensitivity) and predominantly affecting women. It occurs mostly in individuals of darker skin types, when they are exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Treatment is mainly aimed at avoiding sun exposure. (Source: GreenFacts )


Allergies are inappropriate or exaggerated reactions of the immune system to substances that, in the majority of people, cause no symptoms.

Symptoms of the allergic diseases may be caused by exposure of the skin to a chemical, of the respiratory system to particles of dust or pollen (or other substances), or of the stomach and intestines to a particular food. (Source: ACAAI Allergy-Immunology Glossary  )


Alternating current & Direct current

Alternating Current (AC) is a type of electrical current, in which the direction of the flow of electrons switches back and forth at regular intervals or cycles. Current flowing in power lines and normal household electricity that comes from a wall outlet is alternating current. The standard current used in the U.S. is 60 cycles per second (i.e. a frequency of 60 Hz); in Europe and most other parts of the world it is 50 cycles per second (i.e. a frequency of 50 Hz.).

Direct current (DC) is electrical current which flows consistently in one direction. The current that flows in a flashlight or another appliance running on batteries is direct current.

One advantage of alternating current is that it is relatively cheap to change the voltage of the current. Furthermore, the inevitable loss of energy that occurs when current is carried over long distances is far smaller with alternating current than with direct current. (Source: GreenFacts)



The mass of air surrounding the Earth.

The atmosphere consists of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), and traces of other gases such as argon, helium, carbon dioxide, and ozone.

The atmosphere plays an important role in the protection of life on Earth; it absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation and reduces temperature extremes between day and night. (Source: GreenFacts)



Autism is a brain disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate, relate to others, and interact with his or her surroundings. Autism is usually diagnosed between the ages of two and three. There is no cure for autism, except early diagnosis and treatment, which may help to ease the symptoms. (Source: GreenFacts )


Autoimmunity happens when the body fails to recognise some of its own tissues or cells and attacks them as if they were foreign.

Diseases arising from this abnormal immune response are called autoimmune diseases.

Examples of autoimmune diseases include type 1 diabetes and lupus. (Source: GreenFacts)


Bioaccumulation is used to describe the increase in concentration of a substance in an organism over time.

Bioaccumulative substances tend to be fat soluble and not to be broken down by the organism. (Source: GreenFacts )



Any one of a group of diseases that occur when cells in the body become abnormal and have the potential to spread and establish growth in nearby tissues and other parts of the body (malignancy). (Source: GreenFacts )



A clouding of the natural lens of the eye most frequently caused by ageing that can severely blur vision. (Source: GreenFacts)


The basic subunit of any living organism; the simplest unit that can exist as an independent living system. There are many different types of cells in complex organisms such as humans, each with specific characteristics. (Source: GreenFacts)



Occurring over a long period of time, either continuously or intermittently; used to describe ongoing exposures and effects that develop only after a long exposure. (Source: US EPA Thesaurus  )

Chronic actinic dermatitis

Chronic actinic dermatitis is a rare skin disease that mainly affects middle-aged and elderly men. It is characterised by severely itchy, red, inflamed, and thickened dry skin due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation and frequently also visible light from the sun or artificial lighting. The cause remains unknown. Treatment consists in avoiding exposure to sunlight. (Source: GreenFacts, based on DermNet NZ  )

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness characterized by prolonged fatigue causing a loss of energy or strength and many nonspecific symptoms such as headache, recurring sore throat, muscle and joint pain and memory and concentration problems. Currently, there is no known cause, cure or universal treatment for this disease. (Source: GreenFacts )

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are energy-saving light bulbs, which last longer and use far less energy than traditional (or incandescent) light bulbs for the same level of light intensity. (Source: GreenFacts )


DG Health and Consumers

"The Health and Consumers DG (formally known as Health and Consumer Protection DG) is one of 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services which make up the European Commission."

The mission statement of the Health and Consumers DG is: "to promote a better quality of life by ensuring a high level of protection of consumers' health, safety and economic interests as well as of public health"

"This overall goal is addressed through legislative and non-legislative actions in three inter-related policy areas: 1. Consumer policy (...), 2. Public Health (...), 3. Food safety, animal health, animal welfare and plant health (...)". (Source: DG Health and Consumers website  )


DNA constitutes the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next. (Source: NCI dictionary  )



Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty, which severely affects the ability to understand or use one or more areas of language, including listening, speaking, reading, writing, and spelling. The cause seems to be a malfunction in certain areas of the brain concerned with language. The condition frequently runs in families. (Source: GreenFacts )


Dyspraxia is a disability that affects body movements and co-ordination. It often leads to clumsiness, and problems with language, perception and thoughts. The causes are unclear, but it can be acquired via a stroke, accident, illness, weak trauma, momentary lack of oxygen at birth or during pregnancy. The condition can be treated via early intervention, using physical and occupational therapy to improve motor skills. (Source: GreenFacts )


Eczema or contact dermatitis is a skin disorder characterized by itching, scaling, thickening of the skin, usually located on the face, elbows, knees, and arms. The exact causes are still unknown, but an abnormal function of the immune system is believed to be a factor. There are several types of eczema, which can be triggered by various chemicals, environmental agents or psychological factors. Treatment is to keep the skin well hydrated. (Source: GreenFacts )


Electric field

An electric field is an invisible force field created by the attraction and repulsion of electrical charges (the cause of electric flow), and is measured in Volts per meter (V/m).

The intensity of the electric field decreases with distance from the field source.

A static electric field (also referred to as electrostatic field) is an electric field that does not vary with time (frequency of 0 Hz). Static electric fields are created by electrical charges that are fixed in space. They are different from fields that change over time, such as electromagnetic fields generated by appliances using alternating current (AC) or by cell phones etc. (Source: GreenFacts )


Electromagnetic fields (EMF)

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are a combination of invisible electric and magnetic fields of force. They occur both naturally and due to human activity. (Source: GreenFacts)


Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

Perceived hypersensitivity to exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) is described mainly by subjective symptoms (redness, tingling, burning, dryness of the skin) as well as by fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestive disturbances. It appears that hypersensitivity to electric and magnetic fields is an unclear health problem whose cause has yet to be determined. (Source: GreenFacts, based on WHO Electromagnetic fields and public health  )


Electromagnetic spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum is the entire range of wavelengths of all known electromagnetic radiations. It includes:

Gamma rays have the smallest wavelengths and highest frequencies known. They are high energy waves capable of travelling long distances through air and are the most penetrating waves.

X-rays have longer wavelengths than gamma rays but smaller wavelengths and therefore higher energy than ultraviolet radiation. They have been used in various applications in science and industry and are primarily used in medicine for instance in radiography. They are a form of ionizing radiation and as such can be dangerous. X-rays are emitted by electrons outside the nucleus, while gamma rays are emitted by the nucleus.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is defined as the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between X-rays and visible light. More...

Visible light – also known as the visible spectrum – is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that human eyes can detect. It covers all colours from blue at 400 nm to red at 700 nm, with blue light having more energy than red light.

Infrared (IR) radiation – also referred to as thermal radiation – is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum lying between visible light and microwaves. The most important natural source of infrared radiation is the sun.

Radio waves have long wavelengths, ranging from a few centimetres to many thousands of kilometres in length. They are used among other things for television, cell phone and radio communications. (Source: GreenFacts)


Electromagnetic wave

Electromagnetic radiation is generated by the vibration of electrons or other electrically charged particles. The energy produced by this vibration travels in the form of electromagnetic waves. These waves are characterised by their wavelength (λ) which is the distance between successive peaks and is measured in units of length, and by their intensity, or amplitude, which is the height of each of those peaks.

Wavelength has an inverse relationship to the frequency.



An electron is a particle that carries a negative electrical charge. Electrons form the outer "reactive" shell of atoms which interacts with other atoms and form the chemical bonds that hold molecules together. Flow of electrons between two points generates an electric current. (Source: GreenFacts )

Elemental mercury

Hg. Mercury in its elemental (pure) form, that is, as a metal; hence the synonym metallic mercury. A shiny, silver-gray metal that is a liquid at room temperature. (Source: GreenFacts)



In humans and animals, epidermis refers to the thin outermost layer of the skin.

This tissue constantly renews itself. (Source: GreenFacts)


Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have recurring seizures. These happen when clusters of nerve cells in the brain undergo a sudden surge of electrical activity, resulting in strange sensations, emotions or behaviour. Epileptics may have violent muscle spasms or lose consciousness.

Epilepsy has many possible causes, including illness, brain injury and abnormal brain development. In many cases, the cause is unknown. There is no cure for epilepsy, but medicines can control seizures for most people. (Source: GreenFacts )


European Commission

"The European Commission (EC) embodies and upholds the general interest of the [European] Union and is the driving force in the Union's institutional system. Its four main roles are to propose legislation to Parliament and the Council, to administer and implement Community policies, to enforce Community law (jointly with the Court of Justice) and to negotiate international agreements, mainly those relating to trade and cooperation."

The Commission's staff is organised into 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services, such as the Environment DG and the Research DG. (Source: EC website  )


Main components of the human eye include:

The retina - Light-sensitive layer at the back of the eyeball onto which incoming light is focused. It contains cells that respond to colours, different shades of grey, and movement. These cells trigger nerve impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to the brain, where a visual image is formed.

The cornea - The dome-shaped, transparent layer that forms the front of the eyeball. It bends light entering the eye into the lens, and hence helps to focus images onto the retina. It contains no blood vessels and is extremely sensitive to pain.

The lens - Transparent elastic structure situated behind the pupil of the eye that focuses incoming light onto the retina. Muscles in the eye can adjust the shape of the lens and make it more flattened to focus on distant objects, or make it more rounded to focus on near objects.

The vitreous humour - The transparent jelly-like substance that fills the eyeball between the lens and the retina. (Source: GreenFacts)



Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread pain of the muscles and bones, stiffness, general fatigue, and sleep disturbances. The underlying cause remains unknown, yet most researchers agree that it is related to the nervous system. There are several suggested explanations for fibromyalgia, such as genetic predisposition, stress, trauma, psychological problems. Treatment includes pain and sleep management and psychological support. (Source: GreenFacts )


Frequency is the measurement of the number of times that a repeated event occurs per unit of time.

The frequency of wave-like patterns including sound, electromagnetic waves (such as radio or light), electrical signals, or other waves, expresses the number of cycles of the repetitive waveform per second.

In SI units, the result is measured in Hertz (Hz), named after the German physicist, Heinrich Rudolf Hertz. 1 Hz means one cycle (or wave) per second.

Frequency has an inverse relationship to the concept of wavelength (the distance between two peeks) such that the frequency is equal to the velocity divided by the wavelength. (Source: GreenFacts)



Genophotodermatoses are rare inherited skin diseases induced by light. They include Xeroderma Pigmentosum, Cockayne’s, Bloom’s and Rothmund-Thomson Syndromes. (Source: SCENIHR  Opinion on Light Sensitivity (2008) )


HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, a virus that infects cells of the human immune system and destroys or impairs their function. Infection with this virus results in the progressive depletion of the immune system, leading to immune deficiency.

Immunodeficient people are much more vulnerable to a wide range of infections, most of which are very rare among people without immune deficiency.

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and describes the collection of symptoms and infections associated with acquired deficiency of the immune system. Infection with HIV has been established as the underlying cause of AIDS. (Source: UNAIDS Fast facts about AIDS   )


Idiopathic photodermatoses

Idiopathic photodermatoses are a group of photosensitive skin diseases which cause is unknown. They are abnormal skin reaction to ordinary light exposure. The most common of these diseases are polymorphic light eruption, actinic prurigo, chronic actinic dermatitis and solar uticaria (Source: GreenFacts )

Incandescent light bulbs

An incandescent light bulb is an electric light bulb in which an electric current passes through a filament, heating it up until it becomes incandescent, producing light. (Source: GreenFacts )


Inflammation is the reaction of living tissues to infection, irritation or other injury. (Source: GreenFacts)



Irlen-Meares is a learning disability that manifests itself primarily as a difficulty with reading and spelling which may be improved by the use of coloured glasses or overlays. The condition affects about 50% of dyslexics, as well as epileptics, migraine sufferers, and others. It is not curable but significant improvements can be achieved by treatment. (Source: GreenFacts )


A chronic inflammatory connective tissue disease marked by skin rashes, joint pain and swelling, inflammation of the kidneys, inflammation of the fibrous tissue surrounding the heart (i.e. the pericardium), as well as other problems. Not all affected individuals display all of these problems. (Source: Rare Cancer Alliance Cancer Dictionary  )

Magnetic field

A magnetic field is an invisible force field created by a magnet or as a consequence of the movement of electric charges (flow of electricity).

The magnitude (intensity) of a magnetic field is usually measured Tesla (T or in mT), but it can also be measured in Gauss (G).

The intensity of the field decreases with distance from the field source. (Source: GreenFacts)


Ménière’s disease

The Ménière’s disease is related to a change in the liquid volume in the inner ear. Symptoms include dizziness, high-pitched ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and periodic hearing loss. The exact cause remains unknown. There is no known cure for the disease but reducing pressure in the inner ear helps relieve symptoms. (Source: GreenFacts )


Migraine is a severe headache, often accompanied by nausea and visual disturbances such as blurred or loss of vision, light flashes and abnormal sensitivity to light. Its cause could be genetic or related to changes of blood flow and certain chemicals. Medicines can help prevent attacks or relieve symptoms. For many people, treatments to relieve stress can also help. (Source: GreenFacts )


A molecule is the smallest part of any chemical compound composed of two or more atoms and which has the qualities of that substance and can exist alone in a free state. As an example, a molecule of water (H2O) consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Helios Glossary   )


Any permanent change in the DNA of a cell.

Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment.

Mutations can be harmful, beneficial, or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if mutations occur in other types of cells, they are not inherited.

Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. (Source: NCI dictionary   )


Unit of length equal to one millionth of a millimetre (10-9 m). (Source: GreenFacts)

Noble gases

Noble gases or inert gases (Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon and Radon), are relatively non-reactive as they have little tendency to gain or lose electrons. When excited with an electric current, all noble gases emit light. (Source: GreenFacts )


Photophobia is an abnormal sensitivity or intolerance to light leading to intense eye discomfort, tearing and blinking and other reactions aimed at avoiding light. It can be due to eye inflammation, trauma to the outer surface of the eye, migraine or the use of certain eye drops. (Source: GreenFacts )

Polymorphic light eruption

Polymorphic light eruption is the most common of the photodermatoses. This common rash occurs in spring or early summer as a result of exposure to sunlight. The causes are not completely understood. It may be an allergic reaction following the interaction of sunlight with proteins in the skin. (Source: GreenFacts )


Porphyrias are a group of rare blood disorders caused by a mixture of inherited and environmental factors. They are due to the accumulation in the body of a substance called porphyrin, which is normally used as a component to make blood cells. Symptoms include blisters, itching, and swelling of the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Other factors such as the use of certain medicines, smoking, alcohol, infections and stress can also trigger symptoms. Each type of porphyrias has a different treatment (Source: GreenFacts )


A large molecule composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order, formed according to genetic information.



Chemical administered orally or applied directly to the skin to increase the skin's reaction to UVA for a therapeutic effect. For instance, it is used in combination with UVA to treat psoriasis and other skin conditions. (Source: GreenFacts )

Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks

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 requiring a comprehensive assessment of risks to consumer safety or public health and related issues not covered by other Community risk- assessment bodies.

The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks is composed of a maximum of 13 members, but for any specific question may enlist the support of up to six associated members selected on the basis of their expertise. There is also a reserve list made up of candidates found suitable for a position in a Scientific Committee but not appointed. The members of the SCENIHR are appointed on the basis of their skills and experience in the fields in question, and consistent with this a geographical distribution that reflects the diversity of scientific problems and approaches in the European Union (EU). The experts' term of office is three years and is renewable for a maximum of three consecutive times. In agreement with the Commission, the Scientific Committees may turn to specialised external experts.

The SCENIHR complies with the principles of independence, transparency and confidentiality. The members therefore make a declaration of commitment to act in the public interest and a declaration of interests; requests for opinions, agendas, minutes and opinions are published; work and publications are done with regard to the need for commercial confidentiality. (Source: SCENIHR pages  )

Skin cancer

A tumour that grows from skin cells and which can have different causes, including repeated severe sunburns or long-term exposure to the sun. (Source: GreenFacts, based on EcoHealth; Glossary   )


Snow blindness

A temporary blindness or painful eye condition caused by exposure of unprotected eyes to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or artificial sources such as sun-tanning beds, a welder's arc, and halogen desk lamps. Symptoms include tearing, pain, redness, swollen eyelids, headache, and are due to a burn of the surface of the eye (cornea). Vision usually returns in less than a day. Prevention involves sunglasses with adequate UVB protection and full coverage of the eyes. (Source: GreenFacts )

Solar urticaria

Solar urticaria is a stinging, itchy rash which develops within minutes of exposure to sunlight or artificial light emitting ultraviolet radiation. The cause of solar urticaria is not clearly defined but may be due to an immune reaction between a chemical created in the body (photoallergen) reacting with ultraviolet radiation to cause the allergic reaction. (Source: GreenFacts, based on DermNet NZ  )


Anything capable of evoking a response in an organism. Examples of stimuli include irritants, sights, sounds, heat, cold, smells, or other sensations. (Source: Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia   )


A group of cells joined to perform a set of functions. (Source: GreenFacts)

Ultraviolet radiation

Electromagnetic radiation of shorter wavelength than visible light but of longer wavelenght than x-rays, i.e. ranging from approximately 400 nm to 100 nm.

The most common source of ultraviolet radiation is the sun, but it can also be produced artificially by UV lamps.

UV radiation is divided into three bands: UVA, UVB, and UVC. All three bands are classified as a probable human carcinogen.

UVA – Long-wavelength UVA covers the range 315–400 nm. Not significantly filtered by the atmosphere. Approximately 90% of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. UVA is again divided into UVA-I (340 nm - 400 nm) and UVA-II (315 nm - 340 nm).

UVB – Medium-wavelength UVB covers the range 280–315 nm. Approximately 10% of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface.

UVC – Short-wavelength UVC covers the range 100–280 nm. All solar UVC radiation is absorbed by the ozone layer. (Source: GreenFacts based on WHO  Artificial tanning sunbeds: risks and guidance )



A dizzying sensation of the environment spinning, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. (Source: National Multiple Sclerosis Society Glossary of MS terms )


Vitamins are a group of organic micronutrients that are required by the body for healthy growth, development and immune system functioning.

Certain vitamins are produced by the body but most vitamins are obtained from food or from manufactured dietary supplements. (Source: GreenFacts)


Other articles you might like...
Mycotoxins home
What are their effects and how can they be prevented?
Safety of Cosmetics home
Safety assessment of cosmetic products for human health are now required from different cosmetics regulations worldwide.
Safety of sunscreens home
Are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles safe?
A-Z List
    Themes covered
    Publications A-Z

    Get involved!

    This summary is free and ad-free, as is all of our content. You can help us remain free and independant as well as to develop new ways to communicate science by becoming a Patron!