Are Your Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Dangerous? : The Renegade Health Show Episode #704

Friday Nov 19 | BY |
| Comments (53)

We had a great question a few weeks ago on the blog that I’ve been wanting to address…

The question is: “Could you address the topic of the health problems associated with the new energy-saving light bulbs?”

In this episode, I use my Gauss meter to show you if they put off dangerous amounts of EMF.

Be sure to pass this along to friends, or click the “Like” button at the top of this post!

Take a look…

Your question of the day: Do you have compact fluorescent bulbs in your house?

Click here, scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave your comments now!

Here’s a great message board post I found about the difference between LED bulbs and Compact Fluorescent Bulbs: Click here

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. RW says:

    replaced all of my CFL bulbs with LED. The LED’s are way better, but cost more. However, they last longer and use less energy with no mercury needed.

  2. Barbara W. says:

    No compact fluorescent bulbs in my house. I’ve been avoiding them based on the bad things I have heard about the mercury. Thanks for this very interesting and informative episode.

  3. Donaji says:

    VERY informative and no, I don’t have any of the CFLs, I only have LEDs but I also didn’t know about this info…will certainly use it for the future. I really want a meter now…it’d be fun and interesting going around the house testing different stuff, will make me more away of what’s giving off EMFs.


  4. Tara Burner says:

    I used to have CFL’s in all lights in my other place… here I don’t because well the lights are on ceiling, and it’s 14-16″ ceilings in living/dining/kitchen and I’m not carrying a ladder up 3 flights of stairs to switch light bulbs! lol but great info!!! Never thought about the health factors of CFL’s and I used to push them and other environmental products…should’ve thought about health aspect so great info Kevin!!!

  5. Page says:

    We are gradually replacing our CFLs with LEDs – Yes, they are pricey, but they will last a very long time and do not have the health hazards of the CFLs.

  6. Linda Miller says:

    My husband has changed many of our lighting to the CFLs. I do not like them. I had one break early on, and I picked it up like a normal bulb and threw it away. Later on, when I read about the complex way they should be taken care of, I was pretty upset. They don’t even give instructions with these bulbs so how are the uninformed to know!

  7. We’ve avoided CFB and stocked up on as many incandescents as possible.

  8. amalhator says:

    Unfortunately, most of our lightings are CFL. I recently broke one in my basement and evacuated. I have no idea how much heavy metals our pets and us inhaled. If you ever use fluorescent lamps, it is best to use it in a ventillated environment like porches. LED’s have a high cost per lumen but they look cool. Incandescents are not bad in the winter. They actually lower your heating costs. They are however not recyclable.

    If CFL breaks, are we supposed to do an environmental clean up? It’s so much trouble.

    You can actually buy CFL’s with silicone covering. This protects the glass from breaking and if it breaks, the mercury vapour will be contained.

  9. nick says:

    Our electric company replaced our candescents with cfl’s to save us $ on electric; SO great we will save a few cents on electric and either get mercury poisoning if the bulb breaks or cancer.

  10. casey says:

    very fascinating as usual, and no i dont

  11. john says:

    Excellent video Kevin and Ann Marie ! I got rid of all my CFL bulbs and took them to a local co -op where they take for free all your CFL bulbs for PROPER DISPOSAL it is for the good of man kind and all of our future children’s children ,a NO brainer. -One thing people need to know is if a CFL bulb breaks the mercury is released in your room and the ONLY WAY YOU CAN HVE IT PROPERLY CLEANED UP IS IF A HAZMAT TEAM COMES TO CLEAN THE MESS UP.——DO –NOT — VACUUM — THE MESS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For the sake of your family and loved ones or pets. Call your local HAZMAT . CFL’s must be banned . Yes they are that dangerous for all .Mercury vapors ,and mercury splits up all over the place and diffuses in all nooks and crannies is very poisonous . You know I’m not smart but I know this much ,so why do are elected officials allow this bad CFL for the public and not ban it ? Whats their excuse ?
    Kevin the Tri- field meter is a great tool for all people to have to against the UNSEEN DANGERS THAT LURK in everyones environment.
    Like for you to sell the Tri Field on your web site Kevin so other people can have the protection they deserve and SPREAD THE WORD OUT to others .

  12. kt mm says:

    I did purchase them years ago when they first came out, before anyone said anything about the mercury contained in them. I plan on replacing them with LEDs but our options are still pretty limited in regards to LEDs and fitting into light fixtures, not to mention my first LED blew out within 2 years(not happy about that $100 investment). Thanks for the info, especially the tip about looking for silicone covered CFLs.

  13. Courtney says:

    Wow, as I physicist, I have to say Kevin: you don’t know what you’re talking about and confused several terms. It was actually pretty funny. 🙂

    Some basics:

    Electromagnetic frequencies = light (both visible and non-visible)

    EMF frequencies = normally a term used by people who are confused and don’t understand the science and who confuse EMFs and light

    Gauss meter: measures electric and magnetic fields (so does NOT measure electromagnetic frequency),

    LED = light-emitting diode. An diode is a semi-conductor device that can act as an electrical switch.

    The reason why LED are safer is probably because they consume so little electrical current.

    I think you need to be careful when speaking about talking about the science of these things and other, as sometimes, I catch you making scientifically incorrect statements. Don’t worry, David Wolfe does it, too, and has made the same mistake about EMFs, light, etc., in the past. The funniest is when David said that there is a black hole in the center of the Earth…very ridiculous and funny at the same time…and so clear that he didn’t know what he was talking about 🙂

  14. I did know this, and i do have them in the house i moved into, i would like to replace them as they burn out. I would like to know more about EMF’s. In response to comment13 I would like it if sometimes people admitted that they don’t have all the answers! I don’t know if kev is wrong or not as i don’t have much knowledge about this subject. Sometimes i just feel like some experts will “make up” an answer that isn’t allways correct, just so they don’t have to say they dont know. ANYWAY…Great show, would love to know more…PS..i know your hair is getting flack lately…I THINK IT ROCKS! Wish i had that nice curly head of hair!

  15. Donna says:

    So Courtney. . . could you explain, are the high numbers on the Gauss meter indicating any danger to us? Don’t leave us hanging there!

  16. Where can you find a gauss meter? Those look like niffty little tools, and I like the name.

  17. crow says:

    Yes, I have CFL’s in my home and LED. I know there are health risks. But have to ask do we really know the extent of the health risk with CFL’s since we are constantly being put at risk by so many things in the environment. Can we really say it is the CFL’s only?????? Or is it a combination of many things????

  18. Don says:

    Courtney, don’t be a bitch ass! Kev’s the man. He even said in the video he wasn’t an expert.

  19. Mary Artemis says:


    i think a more appropriate question to discern whether or not one “knows what they are talking about” is whether higher EMFs are good for the body and the general effect of EMF’s on the body. WAY more important. And, what Kevin ultimately seeks to address.

    However, we are all used to Kev’s inability to speak(!)- and not limited to physics! You would know that if you listen to him. That’s why we love him though, and appreciate him, and also have no trouble figuring out the depth and breadth of salient information he brings to us, more than most people can communicate. I speak for many since we have an open mind.

    And, I will not be buying CFL’s, thanks to Kev (which I appreciate) despite all the self-proclaimed experts who tout the bulbs to be advantageous because of their “efficiency”. And THAT’s the point, — that the experts with their smooth terms, don’t really know what THEY are talking about and what is safe for the human being–in a big way.

    Mary from Stamford, CT

  20. Mary Artemis says:

    ALSO, it would be helpful for the physicist, Courtney, to then properly define EMFs, [electromagnetic frequency?, electromotive force?] and address electromagnetic frequency and emfs so we can learn from her.

    Because by your comment we still don’t understand exactly what “mistake” in common you are referring to, was made by David Wolfe and Kevin regarding EMFs? How nice to have a physicist in the house–if she is willing to teach us.

  21. Kuru says:

    Some time ago, I wrote the Sierra Club about the dangers of mercury in CFL bulbs. Apparently there was a story on Fox news that dramatized the amount (you know how they like to goad the greenies), but EPA says there’s “nowhere near enough to provoke panic or evacuation.” Sierra Club responded with a comment from EPA on how to dispose of the bulbs:

    The EPA advises the following treatment:
    Open a window and leave the room for at least 15 minutes (to let the mercury vaporize).

    Remove all materials (i.e., the pieces of the broken bulb) without using a vacuum cleaner. You don’t want even a small amount of mercury lurking in your vacuum. To do so: Wear disposable rubber gloves, if available. (Never touch the bulb pieces with your bare hands.)

    Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard (you don’t want the stuff to get on your broom or dustpan either).

    Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipe. Sticky tape, such as duct tape (yet another use for the versatile material!), can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.

    Place all cleanup materials in a plastic bag and seal it. If your state permits you to put used or broken CFLs in the garbage, seal the CFL in two plastic bags and put into the outside trash (if no other disposal or recycling options are available). If your state doesn’t allow this, consult the local hazardous-waste authority for safe-recycling information. Some hardware stores will also accept old bulbs; to find a recycler near you, try Earth 911, or (800) CLEAN-UP, for a location near you.

    Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.

    The first time you vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag once done cleaning the area (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag and/or vacuum debris, as well as the cleaning materials, in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

  22. Sandi S says:

    thanks, Kevin. I appreciate your info and the fact that you always tell us when you aren’t sure but state your opinion anyway. You’re the man. It’s just to get us thinking…and Courtney, it’s not the first time that a so-called professional (you, Ms Physicist) has told us that things like this are “safe” when in actuality, they’re not. I don’t have much faith in med. and scientific community because of their funding sources…..we all have our own opinion and unless you can explain why Kevin is incorrect, put a lid on it.

  23. db : ) says:

    Very interesting show Kelvin and Ann Marie and thank you for that information on the EMF’s from compact fluorescent bulbs.

    Some time ago I tried an energy saving light bulb; however, when I saw on the package it contained mercury, I thought this is RIDICULOUS!!!!

    I took it to Hazardous Waste Recycling, but I thought how many of these are being tossed in the garbage or broken in a house? What good is saving some energy WHEN MERCURY AND EMF’S are added to the mix.

    Thanks for the info on Led and EMF’s. Of course, I am getting my share of EMF’s from the computer. I thinking that I need one of those grounding mats. Although I do have an Aulterra pillow nearby.

  24. Lorien says:

    I am not sure what kind of lights I have. I’ll check it out. I did pay a lot more for them because of the energy savings. Got them years ago and they are still going strong. And they are in the lamps I use the most, right next to my body as I’m reading or working on my computer so I’ll change them out if they are the nasty ones. Thanx Kevin…

  25. Good job, Kevin!

    Everyone is missing the point here. Government mandates and we are soon forced to buy these expensive and dangerous light bulbs that are made in CHINA because they think we are TOO STUPID to choose our own source of lighting.

    Big Brother get the HELL out of our light sockets and let the consumer choose.

  26. Melissa says:

    We have a few CFL around especially in locations where the lamp is left on. We want to switch to LEDs but have not been able to find LED’s that actually put out enough light. For example we switched our flood lamps in the garage to LED flood lamps and it’s like replacing a 100w light bulb with a 5w light bulb. Very disappointing!

  27. Vitamin B12 says:

    Another thing that I wasn’t aware of. Thanks for bring this to our attention. Keep up the good work Kevin.

  28. I replaced nearly all of the incandescent lights in our home with CFL’s when we moved in 2 years ago. I had no idea about the EMF’s! I am not happy about the mercury either, but I thought they were all-in-all better for the environment. I am going to be looking into LED bulbs ASAP.

  29. Bina says:

    Thankfully my husband and I have always hated flourescents. They are very popular where I live though

  30. Austin says:

    Kevin – I like how you have been focusing on some very relevant topics lately. Especially about the certain ways in which society can negatively effect our health (CFLs, EMR, Monsanto, GMOs, etc.). Keep up on this path and your show will only grow in power & reach. It’s great being able to identify these problems together & then deal with them.

    Can you setup an activism area / link in your header & then list out the current laws & proposed laws that effect our health & how we can fight for/ against them? Doing so would only help us all more (by fighting the real problems) & further drive hardcore health foodies & medicine seekers to your site. THANKS

  31. yauboo says:

    I replaced all CFL’s with LED’d 2 years ago. I paid close to $150 for 10 LED’s back then. It is bright enough & close to CFL brightness & only @4 Watts.
    Make sure to get 110V & Warm White Light Bulb if you choose to buy LED. All their LED’s here:

  32. James says:

    DIP LEDs use cheap labour to manual fit each unit opposed to SMD LEDs which are mechnically placed. They are great for low lighting but unreliable for larger needs. Replacing your fluorescent tubes with LED tubes is a great idea.

    CFLs are horrible and the light quality is poor. It is the same with common street lighting like low and high pressure sodium lamps. They actually cause a hormone increase in testosterone which makes young male drivers more likely to speed. A new light source has overcome a lot of these problems.

    A low voltage discharge lamp has much better light quality (CRI) and increased lifespan (warranty 5 years : product life 10 years).

    My dream is fibre optic lighting. You can use prisms to capture light, using small solar panels to power a sun tracker system, which concentrates the light source down fibre optics into your home.

    Thanks for your website guys!

  33. Guadalupe says:

    Some of the first CFL’s gave off a subtle sound (not as noticeable as the tubes) which I found irritating, and since then I’ve been wary of the EMF’s given off by all CFL. Glad to see some confirmation. If you find a bright, full spectrum, healthy for people and earth light bulb, and sell it, I’de buy some for my entire house.

  34. Julia says:

    Incandescent full spectrum light bulbs but now I’m going to look into LEDs as well. Can LEDs also come in full spectrum lighting? Never liked the CFLs because of the mercury, but now it’s good to know more about the EMF as well. Thanks.

  35. Julie says:

    Years ago we got rid of the electric heater on out water bed because of electromagnetic energy. I did not know about the same problem with these bulkbs that are all over the house! Will look for LED’s for sure.

  36. William says:

    Maybe everyone should read this article.


  37. Josephine says:

    I have heard that a new CFL bulb is mercury-free. Why didn’t they do this to begin with? like most of our technology, i love it! I just wish the developers would slow down and do things right before they get distributed all over the place, with hlaf-truths and hype!
    Also, flourescent bulbs were found, over 50 years ago, to need shielding–a bulb cover or slats, in order to stop their frequenciesy from destroying Vit E in our bodies as the light shines upon us.
    I do have some LED lights (Heartland America, online, has good prices but a limited line.) and am going to get a yellow, gauzy material to drape over them to quell a bit of their blueness.
    In the winter, I use incadescents anyplace that I don’t spend a lot of time, because I need their heat to help keep the house from becoming too damp. I don’t heat the whole house, but a light bulb in a room, turned on for a few hours when its been raining all day, helps keep mustiness down so my books don’t mildew, I don’t have allergy problems, and my clothes don’t smell when I put them on from my closet.
    Also, LED’s lose a lot of their life when run in temperatures hotter than about 80 degrees F. CFL’s lose life when run in the cold weather.

  38. Gen says:

    Yes, and I don’t like them. I walked through our house with a TriFeld Gausmeter several years ago and was shocked to discover that even our floor had these hot spots with high readings. The reason? Fluorescent light fixtures on the ceiling below! It is also important that your home be properly grounded. Ours was not and I searched for an expert who knew what I was talking about to come in and fix it.

  39. Gen says:

    P.S. You can buy gausmeters online.

  40. Jana says:

    I’m not keen on cfl’s, and kev, are EMF’s really the main issue of concern? Don’t the incandescent bulbs put off EMF’s also? To my mind, I wonder if there’s any way the mercury becomes vaporized from the bulbs for us to breathe, or if there’s some other ill effect resulting from sitting near a lit cfl.

    And even if the only ill effect from the cfl’s occurs from the breakage of a bulb, well hello, isn’t that sufficient reason all by itself to not have them on the market??? Just my city alone has about 300,000 people in it. Even if just 10% of the population breaks one bulb in the next year, that’s still 30,000 broken bulbs in the landfill in just one year. Plus we all visit places of business, even houses of friends, where we have no idea if a bulb has been broken and perhaps disposed of improperly.

    And even if every bulb, broken or otherwise, is disposed of properly, just the quality of light from a cfl I find displeasing. Plus, fluorescent lights have a history of causing migraines and eye strain in the workplace, and for some, a flickering fluorescent can cause seizures. I also wonder what kind of effect cfl’s have on people with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Hope you cover this topic some more. I really like my incandescent full spectrum bulbs and I’m not aware of any other bulb that I will like as well.

  41. Emma says:

    Yes, relating to Jana’s post,ie. mercury outgasssing concerns, could the mercury in the bulbs be like mercury in our teeth? (where we’re told it’s safe but evidence may suggest otherwise) Do you have any way of testing if they actually outgas mercury every time they are turned on (due to the bulb heating up)? I wouldn’t be surprised . . .


  42. Donna says:

    Thanks for posting the article Bill!


  43. Yep, I never liked those bulbs. Great information on better alternatives Kevin!

  44. Rhonda D says:

    Ok who would have known, Yes I have a few. Thank you for the information.

    Hey I wonder if the mercury in these bulbs are some how a way for China to dispose of there garbage???????? Hence remember the tainted pet food! :O

    Rhonda D.

  45. Chris G says:

    My wife remembers watching a news segment that CFL bulbs were causing rashes. We switched back to the daylight incandescent bulbs. But we’ll give LED a better look after watching this.

  46. Gwyneth, Cambridge UK says:

    I was very surprised to read what you said about cholesterol recently and fats. I had very high cholesterol which was discovered during blood tests when I had to be admitted to hospital unexpectedly.
    I was told to reduce sugar and carbohydrates (which includes alcohol but I don’t drink) which is converted by the liver into cholesterol, put very simply of course. The other reason I believe my cholesterol was high was mainly due to stress.
    I only ever used olive oil, a little butter and semi-skimmed milk in my diet with very little dairy, or red meat.
    Coconut oil is a healthy fat, the original research in the ’50’s I believe, when it was classed as high in saturated fat, was flawed.
    There is plenty of information about this and links to more information on the web.. . . .
    Great site, thanks Kevin and Anne Marie

  47. Chuck says:

    I started installing CFLs when they first came out. Just as is the case with LEDs today, the CFLs were initially expensive, so I prioritized the lights which were on the most. I plan to do the same with LEDs. By doing this, you will not have to spend a King’s ransom all at once. Finally, the price of LEDs will drop dramatically as more suppliers enter the market.

  48. This Gauss meter… why are you “putting it” at one number or another? What does this mean? If you are moving it, what is the point of measuring Electromagnetic Frequencies if you can change it to whatever you want?
    And what is wrong with EMFs? Why do we not want them around us?
    Do the CFL bulbs cause other other problems beside reproduction problems? I will never be worried again about reproductive issues and I live alone.
    You did not show us what a CFL bulb looks like… I assume it is the curly kind? And I don’t know what an LED bulb looks like.
    And what kind of bulb was it that was NOT putting out Electomagnetic frequencies? An incandescent bulb? What kind is that? Why not use those? More confusing than helful video for me.

  49. Sue says:

    They don’t have to be compact, either. Those long fluorescent tubes are bad..for the brain!
    When I had an office at University of Vermont, I found I could not prepare my lectures in that office: for some reason I could not think. It was too inconvenient to take all materials home, so I brought in a lamp w/ an incandescent, never turned on the overhead fl tubes and..problem resolved.
    Later I found out that fluorescents vibrate at a different speed than the brain. So a CFL placed where you read is not only putting out EMF, but is very hard on the brain and mind. I had a house full of CFL until I recently moved and will not put them back even tho we need them since CON Ed is our provider. If you wish to live in/around New York City, go up north until your provider will be NY G&E. You will save about $250/month for a home.
    I found somewhere on the web a discussion of CFL problems last year (?)..just googled it.
    Had not realized the disposal/mercury problems…Wow!

  50. Sue says:

    Oh, by the way, LED bulbs can be $50 each. However, I found some low watt LED at ACE Hardware for $10. The light is quite soothing.
    Thanks for this subject K & A!

  51. Shallel says:

    The best value so far in LED replacement bulbs are $18.50 at your local Home Depot sold under the brand name “Ecosmart” they give as much light as a 50 watt incandescent and use 8 watts. (They are manufactured by Lighting Science Group. The life is stated as 46 years.
    For the best quality LED light if cost is not an issue the Cree LLF series produces the most luxurious halogen like light – 92 CRI! These are available as universal replacements for 6″ and 4″ ceiling cans, and a PAR 38 reflector that would be at home in the Louvre. 12 Watts for a 90 watt halogen equivalent. creelighting. com/products.aspx

    Happy Lighting, loose the CFLs!

  52. Jan says:

    I appreciate the information on CFL’s. I believe all CFL’s contain mercury and lead. Mercury is a vapor which disipates into the air so you need to open a window if you break one and leave the room. Lead is in the small amount of powder which should be picked up with tape and not your hands.
    All CFL’s are suppose to be labeled with a warning they if they contain mercury. The warning is difficult to read in the very small print but it is on the package. It does seem crazy that the warning is not easy to see. Also, in my opinion they should be required to tell you to clean them up if broken which most do not.
    I have a daughter in college and I noticed that many of the students have CFL’s in the dorm rooms. During moving 2 CFL bulbs were broken on her floor and no one seemed to care that they was not a window that could be opened anywhere or the proper way to clean it up.

  53. Courtney says:

    Whoa, I wasn’t attacking Kevin–I think my post was misunderstood. I think Kevin is a great person with excellent intensions! And I think it’s great that Kevin was so upfront and said that he didn’t feel comfortable talking too much about the issue.

    But still, this does not absolve in my mind that Kevin does have an obligation–as someone in the media–to get whatever little bit of science he still does talk about correct. I think this is not only fair, but critically important for society as a whole. That’s why there is so much mis-understanding of science out there. I thought my message would be more effective if delivered in a light-hearted way, but apparently the humor pissed some people off. I apologize if my message was construed negatively.

    About Kevin’s Gauss meter, I can’t answer the question about whether it revealed any danger unless I know the units being used for the measurement. Different Gauss meters have different ranges.

    All the best 🙂

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