Workspace Lighting FAQ

Halogen Lights
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 time. I still think it's a
good idea.

Halogen Hazzards
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

Halogen warning
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

Workspace lighting
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......

Other ideas
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.

Other ideas
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...

Flourescent lights
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 need to.

Flourescent bulbs
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.

Halogen safety
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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