Artificial Light                            and HealthLight has beneficial roles when it          Blue light and UV radiat...
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Artificial Light and Health

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Light has beneficial roles when it
comes to synchronising our day-night
rhythm and driving our skin’s natural
production of vitamin D. However, the
sun’s rays can also burn our skin and
eyes, and give rise to skin cancer.
Must we be cautious when using
artificial light?

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Artificial Light and Health

  1. 1. Artificial Light and HealthLight has beneficial roles when it Blue light and UV radiation can Are all lamps equally safe?comes to synchronising our day-night harm the eye. Exposure to the blue The Scientific Committee consideredrhythm and driving our skin’s natural component of the light from the sun can over 180 lamps covering all majorproduction of vitamin D. However, the harm the retina and inappropriate use types used for general lightingsun’s rays can also burn our skin and of high-intensity lamps can too. Long- purposes, including fluorescent lamps,eyes, and give rise to skin cancer. term exposure to UV from sunlight may incandescent light bulbs, halogen affect the cornea and cause cataracts lamps, and some LEDs. All of them wereMust we be cautious when using but using artificial light normally is veryartificial light? considered safe if used under normal unlikely to have any similar effects. conditions.1 OW CAN ARTIFICIAL LIGHT H 1 HAT NEEDS TO BE RESEARCHED? W AFFECT US? This fact sheet is based on the More data are needed on exposure to scientific opinion of the independentOur biological clock can be disrupted UV and blue light from indoor lamps, Scientific Committee on Emergingwhen we are awake and exposed to and the effect of these on skin and and Newly Identified Health Risks:lamp light in the late evening, at night eye diseases. Potential health effects “Health effects of artificial light”or in the early morning. This disruption of flicker and of ill-timed exposure adopted on 19 March 2012.can in turn affect sleep, digestion, and to artificial light should also becardiovascular health, and possibly investigated.increase the risk of breast cancer. Sucheffects are not linked to a specific lamptype but to the ill-timed exposure tolight.Exposure to UV radiation can cause skincancer. The lamp’s glass envelopes filterout UV radiation, but low levels may Figure: Spectrum of light radiation.get through. The intensity of householdlighting is so low that exposure topotentially hazardous radiation is 1 OW SHOULD LIGHT-SENSITIVE INDIVIDUALS BE PROTECTED? Hconsidered negligible. Even in the Some people have conditions that each model of lamp, so that patientsworst-case scenario of being exposed all make them exceptionally sensitive and their doctors can choose the lampday at the office or at school to lamps to light. Sunlight seems to be the that suits them best. Patients withthat are worse than those currently main trigger of disease but artificial retinal dystrophy for instance shouldin use with relatively high radiationlevels, the added UV exposure over the light also plays a role in some cases. wear special protective eyewearcourse of one year only amounts to Manufacturers should give detailed that filter short and intermediatethat of a one-week holiday in a sunny information on the light emitted by wavelengths.destination. Long-term exposure to lowlevels of UV radiation from lamps thus The detailed and nuanced view of the European Scientific Committee on Emergingadds a very small percentage to the and Newly Identified Health Risks on this issue is available atlifetime risk of developing skin cancer. http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/ emerging/docs/scenihr_o_035.pdf SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEES

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