World Environment Day is a holiday created and celebrated by the United Nations every year since 1974. This year’s celebration is on June 5th. The holiday brings attention to our need to protect the environment. The theme this year is “Air Pollution,” and the host nation is China.
The UN encourages efforts to support its theme each year, and there are a lot of ways that we can improve air quality that goes beyond planting trees. Pollution is the most significant detriment to air quality, and our high demand for energy sends power plants into overdrive burning fossil fuels.
There are many big changes that we can make, but even something as simple as switching to LED lights can save energy, especially if we all make the change together. Each light bulb will reduce our energy demand and will measurably improve air quality over time.
Health Benefits of LED Lights
Beyond cleaner air from reduced energy consumption, using LED lights has some marked health benefits over other energy-efficient bulbs.
CFL, or compact fluorescent, bulbs were popular for a few years because they use less energy than incandescent bulbs. However, they’re falling out of favor as we discover ways that they’re hazardous to our health.
CFLs give off light that is too bright for our eyes if you use them without a shade. They can actually contribute to cataracts. Also, they produce a lot of heat, so your home cooling systems will have to work harder, negating any energy savings from the bulb. The heat can be dangerous for small children as well if they try to touch the bulb.
LEDs create no heat and are not damaging to your eyes like CFL bulbs, so they’re a smarter choice for your health.
LEDs Don’t Produce UV Light
Although it’s not likely, it is possible for CFL bulbs to emit harmful UV radiation to people who are in close proximity to the bulbs. The US FDA cautions people to stay at least one foot away from any illuminated CFL bulb.
Why would you want a bulb in your home that you can’t be near safely? UV lights can damage your skin and cause premature aging and cancer. UV lights mimic sunlight with a high amount of blue wavelength light.
During the daytime, blue light is helpful because it reduces melatonin production, a chemical that contributes to you feeling sleepy. However, the bright CFLs can interrupt your natural sleep pattern if you have them lit at night because they inhibit melatonin production. At night, your body needs melatonin to get sleepy.
LED lights are more versatile than CFLs or incandescent bulbs. During the daytime, you can set smart LED bulbs to have more blue light to help you feel awake and alert, but at night you can eliminate virtually all blue light, which helps maintain your circadian rhythm.
CFL Bulbs Contain Mercury
CFLs bulbs have low levels of mercury. If you break a CFL bulb, you have to take special care to dispose of it.
You should open windows, keep kids, pets, and pregnant women away, and resist the urge to vacuum up pieces of glass right because it can kick up the mercury.
You want to vent the room but avoid any activity that will propel the mercury into the air and, potentially, your lungs.
When you dispose of a CFL bulb, broken or unbroken, you need to seal it in a bag and take it to a recycling plant or stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot that offer safe disposal. If you were to throw the bulb in your trash, it would soon break and emit mercury into your trash can, the landfill, and eventually the groundwater.
LED lights, on the other hand, don’t contain any mercury. They’re more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, without all of the risks of CFL bulbs. The choice is clear: LED bulbs are good for the environment and good for your health.
Celebrate World Environment Day
The best way for you to celebrate World Environment Day is to search for ways that you can reduce your energy consumption in your home and daily life. If you have questions about energy-efficient electrical upgrades, give us a call!