I’m a Democrat who believes that regulations are very important. We need them to protect workers, consumers, and the environment from the harmful effects of corporate greed. But just because regulations are important and necessary doesn’t mean that we can’t sometimes pass bad regulations. One of the worst regulations Democrats have passed has been the banning of incandescent light bulbs in an effort to push the more energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs and LEDs (although I heard Republicans repealed this ban in the large spending bill they passed at the end of 2014.)
I’ll admit that I have a bit of a bias when it comes to fluorescent bulbs, because I have Irlen’s Syndrome, and fluorescent lights and LEDs do terrible harm to those who suffer from this disorder. Irlen’s Syndrome is an optical-neurological disorder in which there is a slight delay in the brain’s ability to let go of the most recently-observed object, especially when the object is one of high contrast. It’s as if the image burns too deeply into the mind’s eye, kind of like over-exposed camera film. The old image stays in the brain (in ghostly form) for seconds, or even minutes, longer than it should. While most of these delays go unnoticed by the patient, they causes motion-sickness while driving, headaches while reading, and strong sensitivities to LEDs, fluorescent lighting, and bright, high-contrast lighting. Exposures to these forms of lighting lead to a sensory overload in the brain. This overload causes tension headaches, chronic migraines, stomach upset, ulcers, anxiety, depression, chills, shaking, and weakened immunity (these have been my personal symptoms). Over the long-haul, overall health deteriorates as organ function diminishes. While some children are born with Irlen’s, adults usually get it as the result of having had concussions or Lyme Disease. I have had both.
I’ve read that as much as 10% of the population suffers from Irlen’s Syndrome to some extent, although the vast majority of cases are mild. Most people never suspect that their chronic health problems are caused by unnatural fluorescent and LED lighting, because those whose careers keep them indoors are exposed to fluorescent and computer lighting on a daily basis for many years, if not their entire adult lives. They never have an opportunity to get away from it for a few months in order to see if their health improves. So they assume that once they develop disorders, that those disorders just happen on their own or are caused by some other external factor, such as pollution or food choices.
LEDs and CFLs don’t just hurt those with Irlen’s Syndrome. Any immune disorder is made worse by these lights, because they compromise immunity. For example, here’s a link to an article about a doctor who’s fighting to protect Lupus patients from CFLs: ( Fluorescent Bulbs May Pose Health Risks…) My family doctor has Multiple Sclerosis and can barely stand to look at his iPad screen. Others who’ve had concussions don’t have Irlen’s, but they have photophobia, and the ridiculously bright LEDs make the night even more unbearable than the daytime sun. Bright outdoor lighting (which is about to get a whole lot worse due to LEDs) kills millions of birds and insects, some of which we need for pollinating our food ( Light Pollution Effects on Wildlife ). It also interferes with sleep, which affects health ( People who live in bright lit areas sleep badly ). Yes, believe it or not, humans are actually designed to sleep in the dark. Go figure…
Fluorescent lighting also greatly aggravates symptoms in those with Autism ( Designing for Autism – Lighting ). This makes me wonder whether fluorescent, LED, and other types of unnatural lighting might actually be the cause of Autism and Irlen’s Syndrome in children. I’m not suggesting that infants and toddlers are developing Autism out of their limited exposure to fluorescent and computer lighting. But what if the many years their parents spend exposed to fluorescent and LED lighting prior to bearing children actually changes human DNA to the extent that it creates slight mutations from one generation to the next?
Few people have ever stopped to consider that, for thousands of years, humans have only ever been exposed to one kind of light – light from fire. The sun, the moon (which reflects the sun’s light), the stars, candles, torches, and bonfires all give off light made by fire. Even the traditional incandescent light bulbs and TV tubes burn a filament, so they give off fire light, too. Only in recent decades have humans been exposed to light that is not from fire. It started with fluorescent lights and has now expanded to LED lighting. These forms of lighting emphasize wavelengths in a way the human brain has never seen before. And not only are we exposing ourselves to it; we are bombarding our brains with it, as many of us spend the majority of our waking hours staring at it. When you consider what a shock it must be to the human mind to experience such a heavy and unprecedented bombardment by something new, it’s naïve not to think that it won’t mutate the human race in generations to come. I believe that Autism is a sign that such a mutation is already underway. Severe allergic reactions by children to nuts may be another sign, since CFLs have already been proven to worsen immune disorders, and an allergy is an immune disorder.
I could be wrong about this, but it will be years until we know for sure, and then it may be too late. It’s nearly impossible to do a study on the effects of artificial lighting from generation to generation. So we should be in no rush to move away from more natural forms of light, like that of the incandescent bulb. We must still fight for regulations that protect people from corporate greed, but we should never propose or support regulations that force us to expose ourselves to something unnatural. Democrats have, for many decades, opposed that which is unnatural, such as dangerous additives in food. Now Democrats need to expand that concern to include the dangers of unnatural lighting and thus reverse their stance on incandescent bulbs.
If we want to save energy (which is a good thing), then we should mandate the reduction of wasted business lighting. I see so many businesses that have brightly lit parking lots throughout the entire night, even though the business is only open during the day. Some will say that this is for security purposes, but these businesses would get better security, and save lots of energy, by replacing such lights with motion sensor-activated lights that they can buy from Home Depot for $29.95 apiece. Also, the tall buildings in my home town are illuminated from the outside by ground-based lights that shine brightly on the exterior of the buildings. This is a monumental waste of energy that most likely cannot be offset by every house in town switching from incandescent to compact fluorescent lights. As usual, it’s the corporations doing the most harm to the environment. If we want to protect our resources by saving energy, we need to mandate motion-sensor activated outdoor lighting during the hours in which businesses are closed. This will save so much energy that the kind of bulbs we use will make little difference.