CFLs and UV Rays: Is There Really A Problem?

Compact Fluorescent
In August’s Lighting Roundup, we mentioned a study on the UV rays emitted from CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) possibly causing skin damage. But, with this popular spiral-shaped energy-saving light bulb now in over 70% of U.S. homes, we think it’s important to investigate further into this issue.

According to this article from, NEMA (The National Electrical Manufacturers Association) has clarified the confusion surrounding CFLs and possibly dangerous UV radiation.

Like all fluorescent lights, CFLs do give off trace amounts of UV and infrared radiation, but those levels are well within the acceptable range predetermined by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).

Unless the person exposed to UV rays has a predetermined sensitivity to them, or if that person uses a CFL at an unnaturally close distance (less than 1 foot), there shouldn’t be a problem.

Plus, the plastic, glass, and fabrics of many household light fixtures also serve to reduce the already low levels of UV radiation. Some CFLs even have covers that reduce emissions even further than standard exposed-spiral lamps alone.

So, unless your CFL is severely malfunctioning (which is rare indeed) you needn’t worry.

For more information about how to properly care for and use CFLs, check out this blog post, or visit the US Food and Drug Administration’s website.

Annie Josey

Annie was the E-Commerce Marketing Specialist at Pegasus Lighting from June 2012 to October 2013. She has a background in English literature, and loves using language to help illuminate the world. So covering lighting news and tips naturally fit her interests. In her personal time she enjoys painting, biking, and reading.