Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) do, indeed, emit UV radiation. While this might be surprising to some, normal incandescent bulbs give off a comparable amount of radiation--and the sun also produces UV radiation.
CFL tubing is lined with a chemical compound called phosphor. When the phosphor is excited, it can convert UV radiation to light.
Energy Star alerts customers that the range of UV radiation from CFLs stays safely between 50 and 140 microwatts/lumen; some incandescent lights, it also says, emit more than 100 microwatts/lumen of UV radiation.
An HPA Warning
The British Health Protection Agency issued a 2008 warning stating that people should not be within a foot of a CFL for more than an hour a day because of potential UV radiation exposure.
An HPA Assurance
The agency went on to assure consumers that the bulbs did not need to be removed from homes altogether and were generally safe.
The EPA warns that CFLs must be properly recycled at designated facilities. This is not because of radiation, however, but because of the mercury contained in the bulbs.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Drew Herron