Fluorescent light puts you at risk from cancer and depression.

Fluorescent light puts you at risk from cancer and depression.

Robert Brennan

Witness the ghastly fluorescent glow in the atrium of New York University’s Bobst Library. Here two 18-20 year old male students, Stephen Bohler and John Skolnik, plunged 10 stories to their deaths in the fall of 2003, killing themselves despite being in the prime of their lives. The library is bursting with bright fluorescent light (like most classrooms), and the days were getting shorter. Coincidence?
Studies worldwide prove that if schools and workplaces were lit with sunlight or full-spectrum bulbs kids would do better in school, and rates of depression and suicide would drop everywhere, from colleges to prisons. If you’re reading this on the subway, at work, or in your kitchen, you’re probably under fluorescent light. Is that a problem? Not if you’re a fan of skin cancer, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and attention-deficit disorders.
Fluorescent light is omnipresent in drugstores, banks, classrooms, and, ironically, even in our hospitals. Those flickering “cool white” bulbs have nodes on the ends that give off X-rays and other electromagnetic pollution. The light they give is limited to mostly yellowish hues, and lacks the healthy, rainbow-colored benefits of sunlight and therapeutic, nutritious full-spectrum bulbs.
Researchers the world over have proven the dangers of fluorescent light. Besides headaches, eye-strain, and sleep disorders, here are some of the major problems:

Skin cancer (melanoma) has been linked directly to excessive exposure to fluorescent light, rather than sunlight. Dr. John Ott, an American pioneer of light research and the new science of photobiology, states, “Emissions from such light extend into the potentially carcinogenic range.” A study by the U.S. Navy found the most melanoma in people who worked under interior light all the time. The respected medical journal, Lancet, published a study by The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Sydney’s Melanoma Clinic that determined those who work indoors under fluorescent light are twice as likely to get skin cancer, and those who sunbathed often had the lowest risk of skin cancer. Richard Stevens, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with the University of Connecticut Health Center, who has written much on the subject, was quoted in the National Institutes of Health News (Dec. 2005) saying “if the link between light exposure and cancer risk can be confirmed, it could have an immediate impact on the production and use of artificial lighting in this country.”

“Problem Children,” Learning Disabilities, School Anxiety, and Leukemia: According to Laurence D. Martel, Ph.D., president of the National Academy of Integrative Learning, Inc., several studies prove traditional fluorescent bulbs used in classrooms cause anxiety, hyper-activity, attention problems, bodily stress, aggressive behavior, tooth decay, and other learning and performance problems. He reports even blind children are as adversely affected by fluorescence as sighted children. Australia’s Nexus magazine article, “The Healing Power of Full-Spectrum Light” (July/Aug. 2001), reported a spike of leukemia in Chicago elementary school students who studied in fluorescent-lit classrooms with no sunlight. Teachers had been keeping the blinds closed. The incidence of leukemia dropped once the teachers allowed sunlight to bathe the children, even if only in small amounts.

Depression: At the International Light Conference at England’s Reading University (1999), scientists confirmed that certain types of fluorescent tubes leak radiation that can lead to depletion of brain chemicals such as serotonin, which can lead to depression and suicidal tendencies. School principal Dr. William Titoff, in a controlled study (1999), verified the incidence of depression increased in his fourth grade students studying under fluorescent light, while fewer cases of depression presented among students who worked under full-spectrum light.

SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder): From the fall until the spring, many people get depressed when they don’t get enough sunlight. Researchers state that regular fluorescent light does not make up for sunlight because of its limited wavelength. Sunlight is vital to the stimulation of the pineal gland and to the body’s production of various hormones, and it affects the healthy secretion of neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin, that affect moods. (An average incandescent light bulb is also lacking in full-spectrum light, but is safe and non-toxic.)
What’s the solution? It seems we all need to get more sun. And, if we’re going to continue using fluorescent lights, we need to replace them with full-spectrum lights, which are designed to fit both fluorescent and normal incandescent lighting fixtures.
What are full-spectrum lights? American scientists invented these high-tech bulbs so humans could get simulated sunlight underground in the event of a nuclear holocaust. You can order them online (try www.sunalite.com; www.ottlite.com; or www.naturallighting.com), or find them at most major hardware stores.
Fluorescent light was never meant for general use, according to Michaele Wynn-Jones, an English activist and longtime advocate for the removal of fluorescent lights from prisons. Wynn-Jones tells us fluorescent light was only meant to be a temporary, emergency feature to keep factories working 24 hours a day during the second world war.
The Russians and the Germans have known all this for years. In Russia, coal miners are mandated to disrobe and spend at least one hour each day in the sun, or in full-spectrum lighting, to prevent illness. The Germans have restricted the use of cool, fluorescent light in public buildings, and hospitals have banned the troublesome light based on the research of Dr. Fritz Hollwich.
Yet the sickly light is everywhere today, causing us to feel ill, tired, and angry. It may even rot our teeth. Note how many places you visit or pass by today that are fluorescent-lit—you have to admit the lights make everything and everyone look unhealthy. You’ll never see fluorescent lights on stage or in TV or film productions (unless the director is trying to make a statement).
As the clocks fall back, and the days get shorter, the lack of sunlight gives many of us a feeling of depression that doesn’t lift until springtime’s longer, sunnier days. Fluorescent light will only bring you down more if you get no sunlight. Full-spectrum lighting used in this writer’s home the last three years helps to banish the winter blues. Four G.E. “Reveal” enhanced color spectrum bulbs cost $3.99 at a hardware store.
And yet you can pay thousands of dollars to study at a prestigious university and still find yourself sitting under toxic light. Why? Research proves reading and math scores soar when students study under full-spectrum light, but our schools are still living in the Dark Ages.
In 1960, Dr. Ott wasn’t taken very seriously after observing that mice lived for an seven to eight months under fluorescent lights; whereas mice living under natural, unfiltered daylight lived twice as long. The scientific data to date is overwhelming, and Dr. Ott and his colleagues in the new science of photobiology have been proven right. If we’re serious about not leaving any child behind, and about workplace safety, we’d better go with full-spectrum lighting and sunlight, or else we’ll be looking at a SAD future.

Rob Brennan is an actor, writer, and nonviolent revolutionary in Brooklyn. Email him at  BrennanNYC@yahoo.com

This article first appeared in The New York Megaphone.  http://www.voxpopnet.net/megaphone.html