The Dangers of Fluorescents


Pictured is the school cafeteria where many students dine and study under the brightly lit fluorescents of the school. “Fluorescent lights make me feel like I’m in a hospital and it’s not fun,” said Mike Vinton ‘22.

Lauren Hunt, Staff Writer

For years, fluorescent lighting has been the go-to for schools, office buildings, grocery stores, doctor’s offices and many other places. However, some of the effects of this lighting source could be causing damage to many Americans. Like many, I find myself in class struggling to keep my eyes open with the lights straining them. Research supports that fluorescent lights take a big toll on a student’s mental and physical health and their ability to focus in class. “[Fluorescent lights] can be distracting, from the feedback I have gotten,” said school nurse Kelly Ducharme, explaining that some students are coming in with headaches due to the lights in school. 

Many Hollis Brookline students are suffering from the school’s lighting.“I feel like they make me tired, they give me a headache, while I’m in school I feel like I’m in a trance.” said Griffin Harper ‘21.

Electric Performance Lighting (E.P.L.), a lighting company based in Wisconsin, revealed that the 35+ million people with headaches and migraines could be suffering from light sensitivity. The company said, “Similar to other symptoms of photophobia (or light sensitivity), fluorescent lights may lead to: headaches/migraine attacks, eye strain and inflammation, difficulty reading or focusing, nausea, feelings of anxiety and depression, disrupted sleep patterns and more.”  

Fluorescents in school are one thing leading to health disturbances. “[Fluorescent lights] definitely strain [students] eyes and exacerbate headaches,” said Ducharme.   Some kids aren’t able to focus, and the lights are causing some people kids to suffer from headaches and migraines. 

 “The combination of bright neon colors and many large fluorescent light fixtures could lead to difficulties focusing and migraines,” said Zoey Bros in her article on Everyday Educate. She also describes that many teachers may not recognize light sensitivity, but to look out for if their students are reporting dizziness, fatigue, irritability, discomfort, and anxiety. 

There maybe more light coverage, however, the bright white lighting does cause some disturbance in people’s vision. LED2, a lighting company, said, “while these bulbs are much more energy-efficient than their incandescent predecessors, they bring with them a variety of potential health risks including: migraines, eye disease, and mercury exposure.” 

A brightly lit room with white brick walls has a clear effect on students. Maybe not all fluorescents are bad, but those harsh cool-white lights can really do harm by causing a disruption in one’s focus by causing headaches and migraines. “There’s a Mr. Robot quote that sums up exactly how i feel about or schools lighting and thats, ‘fluorescent lights are he**,’” said Sam Hayes ‘21.

 LEDs are a much better solution as they are energy efficient and not as harsh and bright as fluorescents. “LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are the most efficient light bulbs on the market. They use up to 85 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, the ones with a thin wire filament inside, and can last up to 25 years,” said Jillian Mock and Henry Fountain from their New York Times article. Our school, like many others, make us us face the headache inducing brightly lit classrooms for eight hours a day five days a week.