Light bulbs have become a common feature in every home since Thomas Edison introduced them in 1878. Since then, more energy-efficient options have come up. However, the earliest versions and subsequent replacements have not addressed a key issue – electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions. With all the different types of bulbs in the market, it is still quite difficult to find low EMF light bulbs. Light bulbs use different methods to produce the light energy you need to keep your house illuminated.
However, these processes cause EMF radiations at various levels. In this article, we will discuss the best low EMF light bulbs options available to you and how to protect yourself and your household from potentially harmful emissions.
Incandescent Light Bulbs
Incandescent Light Bulbs are the first type of light bulbs that were available back in the ninetieth century, as they were the ones that Thomas Edison invented. Incandescent bulbs work by heating the filaments inside the glass in the bulb. They use the electricity that runs at 50-60 Hz in your home to heat the filament until it is red hot.
The gas within the bulb prevents the filaments from combining with oxygen, hence, burning out. One thing to note about incandescent bulbs is the spectrum of light it emits. It produces light with an orange/yellow hue when compared to energy-saving bulbs. This difference in frequency also has effects on our health.
As you might be thinking, this was not the most energy-efficient method because most of the energy goes to heating up the metal filaments in the bulb. On the other hand, the wirings in most houses were designed for this exact method of lighting, so it was not as inefficient as other types.
The newer energy-efficient bulbs that we use in our homes these days use less energy than incandescent bulbs. However, they deviate from 50/60 Hz, producing dirty electricity. Hence, incandescent light bulbs, while they are not energy efficient, are low EMF light bulbs and a better option than energy-efficient bulbs.
LED Light Bulbs
Light-Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs produce light using a diode. They use the movement of electrons within a semiconductor material. The diode directs the flow of energy. LED bulbs give brighter light, last longer, they are cooler and more efficient than incandescent lights. Phone screens, lamps, TVs, etc. now use LED lighting because of the advantages that it has over incandescent bulbs. LED light bulbs are not all good, though. Two of its major drawbacks are:
- Blue light emission
- Dirty electricity as EMF radiation
LED bulbs contain blue light, which may increase the risk of macular degeneration and digital eye strain. A fluorescent sheet works to mask the blue light, but this only has an aesthetic effect. It does not protect you from the risks of exposure to blue light. Homes have either 50 or 60 Hz wiring systems depending on geography (the US or Europe).
These systems were perfect for the light bulbs that existed then, i.e., incandescent bulbs. LEDs have to change the type of electricity flowing in your house to work. This change and the reduction in energy consumption leads to unused energy flowing through your wires, producing dirty electricity.
Dirty electricity produces high levels of extra low frequency electrical and magnetic field (ELF-EMF) radiations. Among the various dangers from ELF-EMF, one of the most important is to childhood leukemia. Studies carried out on children with birth addresses close to high voltage power lines have proved that the link to ELF-EMF is inevitable.
CFL Light Bulbs
Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs are arguably the worst options available. They rely on the electric current passing through a tube filled with mercury vapor. People that use them do so because they are cheaper than LEDs and use less energy than incandescent bulbs. Other than that, they are very high on the EMF light bulb spectrum. The mercury inside the CFL bulb, when electrified, causes UV ray emissions. UV radiation is responsible for different health impacts and well-known skin disorders. According to EMF radiation expert, Dr. Magda Havas, “…the energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights that are commercially available generate radiofrequency radiation and ultraviolet radiation. If that wasn’t enough, they contain mercury—a known neurotoxin. Instead of promoting these light bulbs, governments around the world should be insisting that manufacturers produce light bulbs that are electromagnetically clean and contain no toxic chemicals.” In people with electro-hypersensitivity (EHS), CFL bulbs cause severe symptoms such as continuous headaches, nausea, and dizziness, among others.
Smart bulbs are usually LED-based and function over wireless mediums such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The EMF levels of your house are directly proportional to the number of Wi-Fi enabled devices in your home. Wi-Fi radiation has been implicated in various disorders, from hormonal and cellular changes to sperm damage and abnormalities in brain waves measured on an electroencephalogram (EEG). Bluetooth smart bulbs are still an area where more research needs to be done. We know that Bluetooth produces radiofrequency and electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) emissions. RF-EMF is known to be potentially responsible for gliomas, a type of tumor that starts in the glial cells of the brain or the spine, and acoustic neuromas, non-cancerous tumors that affect hearing and balance. The International Association for Cancer Research lists it as a potentially carcinogenic emission. These factors, coupled with the effects mentioned above of LED bulbs, make smart bulbs a poor choice for a low EMF light bulb.
Minimizing Your Exposure
At the end of the day, it is challenging to eliminate 100% exposure to EMF radiation. However, you can keep your exposure to minimums. Helpful tips include:
1. Sunlight is the safest kind of light. Turn off your lights during the day and let light in through your open curtains.
2. Incandescent bulbs are your best option for electric bulbs. Do not let energy efficiency restrictions force your hand. Store incandescent lamps if you can afford to.
3. Avoid smart bulbs if you cannot avoid LEDs.
4. Use double encapsulated CFL bulbs if you do not have a choice.
5. Use a good EMF meter around your home.
It is not something that happens every day that the oldest technology is the safest. Light bulbs make a strong case for this. As government regulations come up to regulate energy consumption, the same efforts are not maintained to protect consumers from EMF light bulbs. The responsibility falls to each household to control their exposure levels.
You can keep your exposure to a minimum with a little ingenuity. Use incandescent bulbs with the minimum wattage that you need to keep your house illuminated. Use them sparingly, and you will even be saving yourself on electricity bills!
In Our Blog
You might think there are still a couple of people around the world who haven't heard...