Ultraviolet (UV) light fades colours, it weakens paper, and according to the National Cancer Institute it causes cancer. Those are plenty of reasons to not want too much of it in your house. Yet almost every light source puts out some ultraviolet radiation. Fluorescent lights all work by creating ultraviolet light, then converting it to visible light. Although the conversion lets some light through, the amount of UV that makes it through the glass tube is small. A National Electrical Manufacturers Association study found that 8 hours of UV exposure from fluorescent light was equivalent to one minute's unprotected exposure to sunlight on a summer day. But, if you're concerned, there are steps you can take.
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Things you need
- UV safety sleeve
- Plastic diffuser
Cover the fluorescent bulb with an ultraviolet-absorbing safety sleeve. Many different manufacturers offer many different styles. Ultraviolet light is absorbed by almost everything, so they'll all work. In general, these sleeves are designed to fit tube lamps, but you can cut, form, and tape the lightweight plastic ones to go around a compact fluorescent tube as well.
Insert a plastic diffusion sheet in your box fixture. If you have a fluorescent tube box fixture, you can purchase plastic diffuser sheets that fit the fixture. Although these are designed to spread out light from the tubes, they also absorb infrared. You may also cut these sheets to fit other size fixtures.
Use a lampshade on your compact fluorescent fixtures. Ultraviolet light interacts very strongly with materials of many different sorts. If you use the lampshade so that your room is illuminated by light bouncing off the walls and ceiling, most of the remaining UV light will be absorbed by the paint on your walls.
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