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Source document:
SCENIHR (2008)

Summary & Details:
GreenFacts (2009)

Energy-Saving Lamps & Health

5. Can fluorescent lamps affect people with skin conditions?

Lamps used close to the skin could cause problems for people who
                                are extremely light-sensitive
Lamps used close to the skin could cause problems for people who are extremely light-sensitive
Source: Simon Cataudo

Fluorescent light could be a risk factor for several skin conditions that are brought on or aggravated by exposure to light.

a) Idiopathic photodermatoses

These are skin conditions (dermatoses) triggered by light (photo) that have no known cause (idiopathic). However, they are believed to involve the immune system, and include:

The most severe cases of these diseases may potentially be at risk from CFLs.

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b) Drug-induced photosensitivity

Many drugs cause skin problems and allergic reaction when taken in combination with exposure to sunlight, and light in general. The reactions depend on the drug and include burning, prickling sensations, itching, blistering and reddening of the skin. CFLs are unlikely to be a problem because in many cases only UVA triggers the symptoms and large amounts of drug are needed to produce any effect.

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c) Genophotodermatoses

These are hereditary (“geno”, relating to genes) skin diseases (dermatoses) triggered by light (photo). Although they are quite rare and not well understood, patients are advised to avoid unfiltered fluorescent light, including single-envelope CFLs. More ...

d) Porphyrias

This group of rare skin diseases are caused by the accumulation of a type of pigment sensitive to light (porphyrin) within the skin and by a mixture of inherited and environmental factors. Extremely sensitive patients could possibly be at a slightly higher risk from CFLs compared to incandescent sources. More ...

e) Eczema

Sunlight seems to worsen a form of eczema (atopic eczema) in about one in ten patients. It seems unlikely that CFLs would contribute significantly to this problem and might even be preferred to incandescent light sources. More ...

f) Lupus erythematosus

Ultraviolet radiation aggravates this condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease. Therefore, long-term exposure to CFLs could be a problem for patients. More ...

g) Skin cancers

Ultraviolet radiation is a major environmental risk factor for skin cancer, but the use of CFLs does not contribute significantly to the risk of developing it. Nevertheless, the design of CFLs has to respect the current restrictions for room lighting in terms of the amount of ultraviolet radiation that they emit, particularly in the UVC range. More ...

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