Saudis Fixation of Fluorescent Lights

Robert Irwin / MCASD 2007

Regardless of how fancy a villa or palace one may enter in Saudi Arabia, inevitably rooms will be lit or at least supplemented with fluorescent lighting.  Even small apartments, regular villas, business and restaurants will abound with fluorescent lights.  Saudis and Arabs in general seem to thrive in flourescent lighting.  My personal view on why this is so is perhaps due to how many typical homes may not have large bright and airy windows or the windows may be purposely kept closed to protect privacy which is an integral part of the Saudi culture.  Therefore the illusion of natural lighting is supplemented with an overabundance of flourescent lighting instead.


But…is this really a healthy practice?  For example, according to this article, “fluorescent lights may be more energy efficient and provide a bright glowing light, but they do also contain mercury which can find its way into food and water.   The mercury contained in one standard fluorescent lamp will contaminate 6000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels. Even low-mercury lamps (there is no such thing as a mercury free fluorescent lamp) will contaminate more than 1000 gallons of water beyond safe levels. All types of fluorescent lamps should never be broken or thrown in the trash. They should be recycled by taking them to a local household hazardous waste collection program, commercial recycling company or retail take back program.


Both types of lamps, fluorescent and incandescent, may have lead components to solder the connections at the base, in the glass, and in the inside phosphor coating. At present, incandescent lamps under federal law can be disposed in the trash. However limited, there are opportunities to recycle incandescent lamps. If no recycling opportunity exists in your area check with your local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection program to see if they accept them.


General Electric has plans for a new high-efficiency incandescent lamp to be available by 2010 that will be 4 times as efficient as today’s 125-year-old technology. That would mean that during the lifetime of the lamp that it would use about the same electricity as a fluorescent lamp, it contains much less lead than older incandescent lamps, and no mercury.”

There are additional links which study the impact of fluorescent lights to one’s health:

This post discusses the findings of Dr. John Ott who is viewed as a pioneer in the study of health effects and lighting.

Environmental, Health and Safety Online also has an extensive article about the use and safety of fluorescent lighting as well as further information on the health hazards associated with fluorescent lights.


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