Posts Tagged ‘light bulbs’

Greetings! Several of us migraine bloggers have drawn up a petition in response to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Many migraineurs are affected by fluorescent lighting and often suffer in the workplace and in public places. I somewhat understand because I know a dying fluorescent bulb will trigger a migraine for me because of the flickering lights. I cannot bear to be in a dark room with the TV on for the same reason.

There are many questions raised by this new law: Does the law ban or phase out incandescent light bulbs? Does the law mandate or encourage the use of Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs). After wading through all the verbiage in the law itself (official name Public Law 110-140), and despite what the media or the government would like us to believe, I have discovered that the answer to those two questions is: NO, the law neither bans or phases out the availability of incandescent light bulbs nor does it encourage or mandate the use of CFLs.

What does the law do? The law requires that light bulbs, among other items, be more energy efficient than they are now. For example, a 100 watt incandescent light bulb produces 1700 lumens (a measure of light) and uses 100 watts of electricity. By January 1, 2012 light bulbs that produce this much light (1490-2600 lumens) can draw a maximum of 72 watts. Light bulbs that produce lesser amounts of light (eg. 60-watt, 40-watt) will be required to draw no more than 43 watts of electricity by January 1, 2014. Most of the light bulbs in my house are 60 watt and 40 watt, so there are 6 years before this law will affect me.

What are our options? Right now, there are 2 types of light bulb that fits in standard light fixtures. One option for migraineurs is Philips’ Halogena Energy Saver/Energy Advantage halogen screw-base lamp. These halogen lights are offered in 40w, 70w, and 90w versions to replace the current 60w, 75w, and 90-100w incandescent light bulbs. The 60w and 70w versions are available at Home Depot. They are fully dimmable and are available in different shapes for uses in track lighting, recessed lights, as well as floor lamps and desk lamps. There may be a 10% decrease in light output as compared to incandescent lights.
However, there are reasons to pursue research in developing an energy efficient incandescent light bulb. CFLs are not dimmable and they contain mercury, which can produce a hazard. Energystar.gov outlines the procedure to clean up a broken bulb, but I find it extremely time consuming and nearly requiring HAZMAT capabilities. Not terribly practical for families with children. According to Craig DiLouie of the Lighting Controls Association, General Electric is in the process of developing an energy efficient incandescent light bulb. This bulb is slated for market in 2010. Mr. DiLouie’s White Paper surrounding this topic is worth reading.

What should be the migraine community’s response? I thinkd our response should be twofold. One of the major objections from the green community (eg. The Daily Green and the Ecogeek) is that there are no studies that show there is an association between migraine attacks and CFLs. My search for articles from peer reviewed journals came up empty. Therefore, we should encourage researchers to study the relationship between CFLs and migraine. Then we could offer hard data to our critics.
Also, we should actively encourage the development of energy efficient incandescent light bulbs. Let’s make sure that the incandescent bulb will not become a dinosaur.

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