Compact Fluorescent Bulbs & Radiation


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

  • 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.

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  • Photo Credit Image by, courtesy of Drew Herron
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