(CBSLA.com) — A new study finds fluorescent light bulbs, although eco- and budget-friendly, could pose a health risk.
Researchers at Stony Brook University found energy-efficient bulbs emit high levels of harmful ultraviolet radiation.
They randomly tested the bulbs and found the rays were so strong that they could actually burn your skin on the cellular level.
"The results were that you could actually initiate cell death," according to Marcia Simon, professor of dermatology at Stony Brook.
That means exposure to the bulbs could lead to premature aging and cancer.
"It can also cause skin cancer in the deadliest form, and that's melanoma," said dermatologist Rebecca Tung.
In every bulb that researchers tested, they found the protective coating around the phosphor, which creates the light inside the bulb, was cracked, allowing dangerous UV rays to escape. They could not point out why the bulbs were cracking.
The compact fluorescent industry says the bulbs are safe but admits they do emit UV rays. In a statement they insist, "the levels of UV radiation emitted are acceptably low" and are safe under normal use.
Researchers say you can be safe by exercising caution. Make sure you're always two feet away from these bulbs, whether they're in an overhead fixture or a lamp, because a shade will not protect you.
The Food and Drug Administration maintains fluorescent bulbs are safe but suggest buying ones that have an additional coating to reduce UV exposure.
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