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Environmental Lighting Changes and Your Health

By: Janet L. Hall

With the change of the seasons comes the change in time (in most of US), weather, your health and your energy consumption.

In the fall and winter months heating is needed to stay warm, lights get turned on earlier and sometimes are needed during the day, if it's overcast, and for some health declines, through flu and colds, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and vitamin D deficiency.

I can recall as a very young child in the winter months that the grownups would wrap up a baby, put them in the stroller and either sit them near a sunny window or even outside for a few minutes each day so they would get their nourishment, vitamin D, from the sun.

And just last year I was told I had a vitamin D deficiency - how could this be I thought? Then Dr. Oz recently said on Oprah ....

"While the sun provides a potential bonanza of easy vitamin D, people who live in northern states—anywhere above Atlanta [that would be me!]—tend to not get enough.

This nationwide deficiency could be a cause of many serious health problems, including autoimmune disease, Dr. Oz says. "We think it might be responsible for a lot of cancers in this country. If you have multiple sclerosis you ought to be taking vitamin D. A lot of the things we link up to how much sun touches our body result from the fact we don't have enough vitamin D."

If you think you might not be getting enough vitamin D—especially vitamin D3—from the sun, Dr. Oz says to take supplements. "

Testing for vitamin D deficiency is pricey and your insurance might not pay for the test so you could just start taking vitamin D or spending at least 15 minutes outside everyday (running to the car and into a building doesn't count as sun time) or change your environment to include more sunshine into your spaces.

There are two primary sources of light in our spaces, daylight (windows and skylights) and electrical lights (bulbs and tubes).

With the release of Al Gore's movie, The Inconvenient Truth, and in his interviews you may have heard about the energy saving light bulbs he has been promoting. The energy saving light bulbs are compact fluorescent lights (CFL's).

Fluorescent lighting (specifically cool-white fluorescent) has been proven to be bad for your health and the environment. Here's the Catch-22: energy and environmental savings or better health? Well you can have both if you purchase full-spectrum CFL's.

You see all CFL's contain a minuscule amount of mercury so one should know what to do if one breaks in your home and how to dispose of them properly as they are considered hazardous waste. Here's one of the catches: "producing the electricity needed to power an incandescent bulb causes four times the mercury pollution than does producing the power to run an equivalent CFL," according to report on CFLs: What About Mercury?

Now don't let that stop you from purchasing CFL's, just make sure you purchase full-spectrum CFL's (someone PLEASE tell Al Gore to mention full-spectrum CFL's for the health of us ALL!); here's why:

Jacob Liberman points out various studies in his book, Light: The Medicine of the Future, pertaining to health and the use of full-spectrum lights:

  • 1938 - Dr. Darell Boyd Harmon, "The Coordinated Classroom" which led to intensive studies in 1942 and in 1946 findings that with the proper lighting (full-spectrum lighting), seating and decor the following illnesses decreased: reduced visual difficulties by  65%, chronic infections by 43.3% and chronic fatigue by 55.6%. In addition to these apparent improvements in physical well-being, some comparable results also were seen in academic achievement. Harmon's study significantly demonstrated the relationship between the classroom environment and health and learning capabilities...
  • 1950 & 60's - Dr. John Ott (a pioneer in full-spectrum lighting) discovered that mice living under fluorescent's lived an average of 7.5 to 8.2 months, whereas mice living under natural unfiltered daylight were much healthier and lived an average of 16.1 months.
  • 1973 - Dr. John Ott and the Environmental Health and Light Research Institute undertook a study involving four first-grade classrooms in Sarasota, Fl. Two rooms had full-spectrum fluorescent lighting and two had cool-white fluorescent lighting. The study revealed that some students in the room with cool-white fluorescent lighting demonstrated hyperactivity, fatigue, irritability and attention deficits while students in the room with full-spectrum fluorescent lighting improved in behavior, classroom performance and as well as overall academic achievement within one month of installing the full-spectrum lights.
  • Also found in that study was that several learning-disabled children with extreme hyperactivity problems miraculously calmed down and seemed to overcome some of their learning and reading problems. And as another bonus they found that children had 1/3 less cavities as those in the room with cool-white fluorescent lighting.
  • 1980 - Dr. Fritz Hollwich conducted a study comparing these two light sources (cool-white vs. full-spectrum) using the endocrine system (The endocrine system is instrumental in regulating metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, and plays a part also in mood) to evaluate effects. Findings included stress like levels of ACTH and cortisol (the stress hormones) when sitting under the cool-white and the stress levels became absent when sitting under full-spectrum. ACTH and cortisol are metabolic hormones that play major roles in the functioning of the entire body. Hollwich's observations and studies clarify and substantiate the observations of Ott.

With that said I hope you remember to take your Vitamin D and purchase ONLY full-spectrum light bulbs.


(c) 2007  - 2010 Janet Hall, The Person/Place Energy Mover is a Consultant, Coach, Trainer, and Healer and can help you regain control of your life, your time, your stuff, your health, and your environment. In Person or via Phone at

P.O. Box 263, Port Republic, MD 20676
All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce, copy, or distribute so long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author is attached.


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