Workspace Lighting FAQ
While I can not clarify the cancer rumor I do know that these lights are
dangerous, especially around fabric, paper, etc... The ones I've seen are self
standing and are very heavy. The unit is very top heavy with all that glass
and metal. They get REAL hot and if they tumble over the can start a fire. We
had one that set dust on fire! I had cleaned the top of a bookcase that was
next to one and later on turned on the light. We smelled smoke and hair
burning. It was the dust that landed on it from my cleaning spree. *needles
to say that I don't clean anymore!* ];} We trashed it immediately.
Halogen. there's the rub.
It's bright, it's white (not yellow, or blue, or green....). The
lamps have been coming down in price. You do have to watch dust - the
lamps burn hot. And the oils on your hands will cause them to break -
so you must be wary changing the bulb. But bulbs last a very long
I still think it's a good idea.
After reading through the medical literature (sparse)on Halogen lamps,
it appears that 1) they do emit a strong amount of UV radiation, more
than fluorescent light. 2) They cause mutations in Salmonella typhimurium
and Escherichi coli and can contribute to keratitis in human eyes
under the right conditions.
THE GOOD NEWS IS: all the articles agreed that, as long as the lamps
have appropriate glass or plastic covers over the bulbs, the mutagenic
effects were prevented. One article in the journal Carcinogenesis
suggested that "This emphasizes the urgent need for a compulsory
shielding of halogen and fluorescent lamps in order to prevent unneccessary
exposures to genotoxic and potentially carcinogenic UV radiations"
So, if your halogen bulbs are bare --beware! If they are protected by
a glass or plastic shield, you can use them safely.
Work space lighting
My husband and I had our house built and of course is has the
mandatory sewing room. Unfortunately the room is only 9'x 9' which I
thought was adequate until I read aout Melissa's sewing wing! :-)
For lighting I had a four bulb incandescent ceiling fixture installed
in the middle of the room. Four bulbs really lights up the space
quite nicely. What I find annoying however is the shadow that I
sometimes get on my workspace caused by the light coming from my back.
As the saying goes "if I had it to do over again"...I would install
lighting directly over my workspace instead of in the middle of the
room. I might even consider using flourescent bulbs. I am not a fan
of the harsh white light given off by flourescent bulbs but I'm told
that there are softer flourescent bulbs (that give off more of a pink
tone). Has any one used these? Tina
Ooh, don't get me started! I'm on a crusade to warn people about Halogen
lights! Here's the story:
I left a halogen light on one morning; it had been dimmer than I remembered
for a couple of days. When I walked back into the room later, the apartment
was on fire! Turned out the bulb had exploded, sending melted glass up to
ten feet away, starting fires everywhere. It was a fairly major fire, and
we lost a lot of our bedroom. Not only that, but when we told our friends
about it, we found out that something similar had happened to another friend.
To be fair, I know a bunch of other people with halogen lights that haven't
had any problems; I just think it's worth having all the information.
I have two fluorscent workshop style hanging lights...two tubes in each.
I use the daylight bulbs in them and really like the color of the
lighting. I would prefer NOT to be in the basement......
I am truly blessed to have 2 sewing areas:
an upstairs "design area/quilt library/stash closet/pinning table"
a 1st floor laundry room with built in cabinets and countertops
with knee holes for sewing and serging.
I just had track lighting put in the upstairs room with 2 canisters
pointed at the fabric closet and 4 pointed at the work table. So far
I haven't encountered a problem with shadows but the lights are movable
so I'm not worried.
The laundry room had 5 recessed lights that used standard bulbs with
a glass filter flush with the ceiling -- it was kind of dingy so I had
them changed to new recessed fixtures with flood lights. Yo baby its
bright in there now! But I can now sew well into the night which my
tired old eyes wouldn't allow in the old lighting.
In talking to the electrician he did mention the possiblity of flourescent
lights using "full spectrum bulbs". He described these as the lights
that would not distort colors like the regular flourexcent bulbs.
WHEN I get my sewing room, I will install a combination of the full spectrun
flourescents and incandescent, since the full spectrum mimics daylight and what
ever I make will probably live in incandescent. Thats the plan anyway...
Yes - they are all over the building I work in. They do give off a
pink light and it is very obvious. When they first started putting
them in I hated them. As you walk past offices and look in, the room
is truely pink. But once you get into the room and get busy, they
are a softer light than a traditional fluorescent. But for a sewing
room, I'm not sure how they would work. I wonder how much they
change the true colors of the fabrics. I suppose that as long as you
have plenty of windows, it might not matter too much during the day.
But I would suggest good old table lamps and floor lamps. That is
what I have and they work fine. Plus I can move them around if I
We recently had almost all of the incandescent bulbs in our condo exchanged
for some of the new flourescent bulbs that work in 'regular' fixtures.
This is an attempt to save some money on electric costs that our condo
association has implemented. I was concerned about the color problems and
wasn't going to let them change the bulbs in my sewing room. After looking
at some fabric under the new bulbs and not seeing a problem, I let them
change them all. They take a little while to get bright, but the new color
correction seems to work. I currently have a pendant light fixture in the
middle of the room and then two clamp-on lights directed at my sewing area.
One is behind my sewing machine and angles down to supplement the light on
the machine. The other is on a shelf above my sewing area and is angled to
throw light at the entire surface.
Before my husband bought me some more sewing room paraphenalia for
Christmas (which necessitated a rearrangement of the room), I had a two
bulb flourescent shop light suspended over my sewing table. The colors
were awful, so I chose my colors by natural light or took them into another
room, but I needed the higher intensity to see what I was doing.
When we move, I'm going to insist on a halogen lamp for the hobby room.
As a secondary comment here - I just checked the the Cancer Information
Service office located downstairs in the building where I work, and they
confirmed what Judy says (wasn't doubting you, Judy! - I checked with
them before I read all my messages :)), and also said that a recent study
in Italy indicates that if you are more than 20" away from the halogen
bulb, that your risk is virtually eliminated. Which means that the
halogen floor lamps that shoot the light up and towards your ceiling are
probably perfectly safe. You might want to be a little more cautious
about long exposure to the beautiful, sleek desk lamps.
The woman to whom I spoke emphasized that the available studies were done
in animal populations, but that it couldn't hurt to be careful....
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