Lighting affects health. Studies show that full spectrum natural lighting is the best for health and well-being. Here are the details of some of the most commonly asked questions related to electric lighting and human health.
Photobiology is the scientific study of the effect of light on the human body. One of the most popular studies in recent years has focused on using electric light to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. SAD is a winter depression caused by less exposure to light because of the shorter winter days. Scientists discovered that light stimulates the body to suppress the release of depression-causing hormones and enzymes. Most treatments use ordinary fluorescent lighting, though full spectrum or natural light lamps are presently recommended. Phototherapy is also commonly used to treat jaundiced infants. Light also affects our biological rhythms. Light therapy is also being used to help shift workers adjust to their new sleep patterns or to help long distance travelers adjust to jet lag.
Electromagnetic Field Radiation or EMF is increasingly in the news because of theories it can cause health problems. Does lighting generate dangerous EM? Most publicized cases cite the common 60Hz magnetic field. As you know, most household appliances, office equipment and lighting use this frequency. The distance between a worker and the magnetic field is a significant parameter. Most are not very close to lights since the lights are in the ceiling.
The truth is that low level signals of ultrasound and radio waves emit from lighting and the FCC limits exposure to these frequencies in the case of electronic ballasts. Ordinary personal computers emit more radio waves than lighting. A minuscule amount of radioactive krypton or promethium may be present in some fluorescent lamps. However, the most extreme case of exposure would produce a thousand times less exposure than we all receive from background radiation.
Light flicker, such as the flicker of a strobe light, can cause headaches. The light produced by both fluorescent and HID lamps does flicker, but to a much lesser degree than a strobe light. The flicker’s frequency is so high, that most individuals are not affected. However, some people complain of headaches, fatigue and dizziness. Studies related to autism and some other kinds of neurological disorders have revealed connections to this kind of flickering effect. For this reason, some studies are advocating the use of natural full spectrum lighting for schools where autistic students are in attendance.
Natural full spectrum lamps are available on the market and are manufactured by Ott-Lite and other companies. Whatever the lighting used in the home, it is important to utilize the results of these studies to ensure optimum health.