“It’s not just me.”
I always feel ambivalent saying that. It’s part, “I’m not nuts or just being whiney, it’s real,” and part “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.”
Recent stories on BBC News describe how fluorescent light bulbs are not just good for saving energy — they can also be problematic for some people. The lighting can worsen skin rashes in people with photosensitive conditions, including, “the auto-immune disease lupus, the genetic disorder Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), certain forms of eczema and dermatitis, photosensitivity, and porphyria”
It has been estimated about 100,000 people in the UK with these skin conditions will be affected.
ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis, AKA Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) was also mentioned.
Dr Colin Holden, President of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “It is important that patients with photosensitive skin eruptions are allowed to use lights that don’t exacerbate their condition.”
The bulbs were also mentioned as potential triggers for migraines or epilepsy.
However, Karen Manning, from the Migraine Action Association, said this could be damaging to some sufferers.
She said that up to six million people in the UK suffer from some sort of migraine attack.
“These bulbs do trigger migraines for some of our members – it’s either the flickering, or the low intensity of the light, causing eye strain.
Some people with AD/HD or autism also complain about similar problems with fluorescent lighting.
Currently there is a plan in the UK to voluntarily phase out incandescent bulbs by 2011, as part of the effort to reduce overall CO2 emissions. This is important as part of the world-wide effort to reduce global warming; the US could stand to be more proactive.
But we need to remember the important tenant of Universal Design: there is no one perfect solution for everyone. Employers, schools and other organisations will need to be able to have options for people, as indicated by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) and similar rulings. Hopefully advances in LED lighting or other new technologies will result in other products that work well for various purposes.