Sunday, January 23, 2011
OH! NO! Bad News
Regular incandescent light bulbs will be phased out by 2014. Manufacturers will no longer make the most common sizes.
To me, this poses serious physical health and mental health risks. There is a huge potential for a developing black market.
People discuss the problems fluorescent lights cause in their everyday lives and their health--headaches, dizziness, eyestrain, irritability, aggressiveness. No, I have not yet found links to support their or my health issues.
Changes in apparent hues
Since I have sewn for many years, I believe I am a credible witness to the difficulties of fluorescent lighting. It is impossible to know what any fabric or thread combination will be in outdoor or incandescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting changes colors of fabrics. When I am fabric shopping, I must take the bolt outdoors to determine exactly which shade I am purchasing. If this is impossible, I seek a fixture, usually a lamp on display to sell, in order to place my intended purchase under it.
Surely, people who knit or crochet have this problem as well.
I have become adept at shopping for paint. Even stores like Lowe's have a unit in which to place the paint sample. The unit has three sections--outdoor light, incandescent lighting, and fluorescent. If the source of light does not matter, why would paint manufacturers recognize the results of painting in different conditions as different?
My ability to read, learn, behave, or excel was never an issue for me. However, experience through students and my one office with others showed me there were many people who needlessly are exposed to conditions that are unfavorable to learning. Eyestrain was my main symptom. Of course, I became irritable when I discovered I could not control lighting to my benefit.
When I had my own office, I never turned on the fluorescent lights unless I had a student in the office. I used lamps brought from home. Low, but adequate, lighting is all anyone needs. I will move under a bright incandescent light if I thread a needle or read small print. Never did I perform either of these tasks in my office.
Recently, when I was in a classroom for an advanced science unit (certification is in English), I left the fluorescent lights off after lunch. I commented to the students after lunch that we would leave the lights off unless they needed the light to read. When they asked why, I told them of the health benefits and how calm the abundant natural light was to most people. After coming in with the same students for a few days in the month, the students would ask to have the lights off because "it's so peaceful without the fluorescent lights." Some of the students tried it at home and verified the same results. Okay, maybe I colored their perception. Or, maybe not.
I cannot find the study, but maybe you can. Some students cannot learn at school, but at night under incandescent lights at the kitchen table, learn all they were supposed to learn at school. Classroom lighting made the difference.
Disruptive behavior in school
Students who will not mind, are just disruptive, or have learning disabilities are all affected by the lighting. This is a sensitivity to the light. If students spend seven hours in an environment that causes them emotional problems, are we further damaging their future by forcing their parents to use a light source that is harmful.
Using eHow is not really primary evidence. But, like many behavioral problems and health problems, anecdotal evidence leads to research. Primary evidence exists, I am just not finding it. Conditions like fibromyalgia were not legitimized for many years. So it goes.
I told all this to a friend who said her physician brother-in-law tested this concept in his waiting room. For a period of time (days) he used only incandescent lamps in the waiting room and then switched to fluorescent. His office and nursing staff reported that patients exposed to incandescent lighting had fewer complaints about their wait time and fewer irritable expressions about their health.
So far, all I have told you is anecdotal.
So, here is another personal experiences.,
When I worked in an office with three other women, using the federal grant money and a donated office, we worked under a very low ceiling with 3'x6' fluorescent light panels. One was right over my head and to the back of me. Working with my desk lamp with an incandescent bulb worked well for me. The other two disagreed. So, because the program director thought I was just complaining, I went to an opthamalogist who agreed that it was the fluorescent lighting. He was very kind but explained that no one would agree to removing the overhead fixture or allowing us to use lamps only. "No one understands," was the best I got, plus a prescription for a screen for my computer to cut down on glare. Glare was not the problem.
When I taught GED, a teacher whose child was in my class introduced me to the Irlen Method. Fortunately, eyestrain, fatigue, and headaches were my only symptoms. Read the list of symptoms and see if anyone you know exhibits these behaviors or health problems. When I mentioned the colored overlays to my students who had problems reading, they assured me the overlays work. They could read with comprehension and lack of any problems.
Light Sensitivity (from Irlen) symptoms
•Bothered by glare, fluorescent lights, bright lights, sunlight and sometimes lights at night
•Some individuals experience physical symptoms and feel tired, sleepy, dizzy, anxious, or irritable. Others experience headaches, mood changes, restlessness or have difficulty staying focused, especially with bright or fluorescent lights.
I want to be certified in the Irlen Method and get a PhD in reading. That may not happen. But, I believe reading is the single most important skill anyone can learn. Of course, reading with comprehension is the goal. I believe that much of the difficulty most students encounter in school has to do with the lighting. Lighting, combined with a host of other individuals leaves us with a nation of children identified, labeled, and not receiving proper instruction. This is not to blame the educational system. But, I do believe better results could be obtained with different, therefore, better classroom lighting. Only the lack of money thwarts my plan.
Teachers either dismiss the fluorescent lighting problems or whole-heartedly agree. You may write me off as a nut with a theory that is not falsifiable (cannot be proved through scientific methods). I am not. but, if changing the lighting could cause a child with any kind of learning disability or other label to function better in a classroom, would you believe?
This is going to be a challenge in terms of space and money. This old lady now has things to do.
What is your take or experience on the effects of fluorescent lighting? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts?