Saturday, January 2, 2010

CFLs are the Devil

I have to decide what to do about going to my sister's house especially during one of our large family gatherings. You see, she uses CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights) which are huge Migraine triggers for me. We had our family Christmas get together yesterday at her house and I'm just starting to feel normal again since taking my triptan earlier today.

Usually when I go to her house, I turn off her kitchen lights where most of the CFLs are located and turn on a smaller, non-CFL light. However, with a big family party, I knew that would be impossible to do and was going to avoid the kitchen as much as possible. I was able to stay mostly out of the kitchen, but was not able to avoid the nasty rays and invisible flickers as much as I would have liked to.

What I found really weird is that she has some CFLs behind thick, cloudy light covers, where I can't even see the bulbs, and these CFLs were just as bad as the exposed bulbs. Most of the time I stayed in the living room where it was a little darker and nothing loud going on. The problem turned out to be that the living room is next to the kitchen and the CFLs weren't enough out of my sight so everything grew very slowly in my head. It wasn't until we were headed home that it really started getting bad.

This was my family's annual Christmas party. It is hard for my large family to get everyone together because of all of our crazy schedules and occupations plus we need to be in a house that can accommodate all of us especially in the winter months when we can't go outside. My sister's house fits this bill in so many ways except I'm not sure I should go there during these big indoor gatherings any more.

Please don't get me wrong, my family is good about my issues and some even offered to go into the kitchen to fix me a plate. The problem with that is I have too many food triggers where it is really easier for me to go in and fix the plate myself.

I just don't understand why you hear so much talk about how wonderful CFLs are and then don't hear too much about all of the health issues they can bring about too.

My vote is to ban the CFLs and keep the incandescent bulbs! The national efficiency regulations for light bulbs will start a phase-out of the incandescent bulb starting in 2012. Isn't that just plain silly!

An alternative, I haven't tried yet, is the LED (Light Emitting Diodes) bulbs. I have heard they are so much better for us with health issues than the CFLs and I've also heard that the price of LEDs are coming down all of the time. I think I'll consider getting my sister some LEDs for Christmas next year. Maybe that will be the solution...


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I wonder if it is the ultraviolet light spectrum that get migraines going. For me it is aggravated even more by the buzzing of the ballasts in old flourescents!

Heather said...

Hello; great post. I did some PR work for an LED company at one point, and LEDs are indeed much better than CFLs. It's hard to get them into regular houses because of the price, and from what I understand, you need a whole different light fixture - they aren't bulbs that you can simply screw into your current light fixture. But apparently Al Gore had them installed in his house, so it is possible, and as you said, the prices should be coming down soon.

While CFLs aren't a known migraine trigger for me, I avoid them because of the mercury in them (plus I'd guess they would trigger migraines since I have photophobia with migraine). My husband, unfortunately, is big on saving money and bought a box of CFLs, but I only let him put them in the guest bathroom which I never use, and nowhere else! Luckily I've been able to avoid them, but I didn't know about the upcoming regulations starting 2012. That stinks!!

Sorry CFLs made your family Christmas not-so-fun! :(

MigrainePuppet said...

Hi Winny - The CFLs have a very fast flicker that are supposed to help trigger Migraines. Although we can't see the flicker, I can attest that it definitely affects me. Even regular fluorescent bulbs are a problem for me, but the CFLs are much worse. CFLs have been known to trigger other health conditions as well. I never liked the buzzing noise of the old fluorescent bulbs either!

MigrainePuppet said...

Hi Heather - I have only read encouraging things about the LEDs, but that the cost was very high and coming down recently. I haven't seen them in the regular stores yet, but I think you can pick some up in Home Depot or Lowe's. I guess while we're there, we'll need to pick up new fixtures or adapters. :)

I have read about the mercury in the CFLs too and how there is a lot of controversy on the disposing these bulbs. It seems they can't decide whether they should just be thrown away in the garbage or disposed of carefully.

There was a petition that was out about a year and a half against CFLs at I'm not sure if it's still active, but different people have been signing it fairly recently.

I believe incandescent bulbs are already banned in Australia and England. It just seems the free market should determine if they should still be around.

Heather said...

Well, looks like I was wrong. You CAN purchase an LED bulb to fit into a regular light fixture, but at 40-watt one is 30 bucks!

Meanwhile, I love the bad press for CFLs. :)

MigrainePuppet said...

That's great that they fit regular light fixtures. Here is a comparison chart between LEDs, CFLs and Incandescent bulbs:

I've seen other similar charts. The LED bulb will last about 6 times as long as a CFL and the operating costs per year are less. Hopefully the price will keep coming down since that is a lot to put up front for a bulb.

I love the bad press for the CFLs too!!