Doctors claim compact Fluorescent bulbs cause Headaches




(NBC) -- Compact fluorescent light bulbs are part of the big push to go green. Those corkscrew looking CFL bulbs are supposed to reduce your carbon footprint and save money, but this relatively simple environmental solution is causing headaches. "We flipped on a light switch in one of the rooms, and within ten minutes, I developed a migraine. And I could tell it was from that light," said Dr. Larry Newman from the headache institute at Roosevelt Hospital. Neurologist Dr. Larry Newman says patients have called him with similar complaints. The CFL's go on and the migraine begins and that includes people who normally don't get migraines from lights. "I know as a migraine sufferer, those lights trigger my headaches. Normal fluorescent lights don't, but those lights have actually given me headaches," said Dr. Newman. But not everyone is convinced. "I'm still waiting for my first patient to come in and tell me, that's the cause of their migraines, these new energy saving bulbs," said Dr. Mark Green from Columbia University Medical Center. Because the bulbs are new, research is limited and there are no studies to support the claims that the lights are causing migraines. Still lighting researchers say there may be something there. "I don't think it should be dismissed because there might be something about the technology that we don't know yet, we haven't identified yet that may be triggering that headache," said Mariana Figueiro from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. CFL's use newer technology eliminating flickering associated with older fluorescent bulbs, but it could be something else. "There might be what we call inter harmonics, which are some low frequencies in between the high frequencies that may be triggering some of those headaches or some people may be more sensitive," said Figueiro. And this could be just the tip of the iceberg. "If in fact it's just a handful of people who are sensitive to it, then it's not really a big issue. But if you think there are 30 million Americans who have migraine and if an overwhelming proportion of people start to develop headaches, it's going to really be a big health issue," said Dr. Newman. Dr. Newman suggests that before switching all of the lights in your home, try one room first to make sure you don't have a problem.