Plants require good quality light for them to thrive; the composition of light is, therefore, of great importance. Grow lights provide cultivators with the ability to control plants’ grow-cycle to help them maximize their yields.
Unfortunately, while these impressive new growing technologies may be advantageous to plants, they can harm the users, but how so?
Some modern grow lights emit massive amounts of visible, ultraviolet (UV), and infrared (IR) radiation. They are all essential to plant growth, but have adverse effects on human health, ranging from retinal damage and premature aging to various skin cancer types.
Also check out: EMF Radiation from LED Lights
The rest of this article will look at similar topics related to this question, such as the different types of radiation, the potential dangers of UV and IR radiation, and the different types of light bulbs EMF radiation.
Types of Radiation by Grow Lights
Modern grow lights emit light radiation that consists of a set of colors in an electromagnetic spectrum that is not visible to the naked eye.
The light spectrum also consists of visible light plus other components challenging to identify without the aid of technology such as x-rays, radio waves, and microwaves.
Artificial grow lights can emit harmful levels of UV and infrared radiation. But what exactly are they, and how can they affect your health?
What Is UV Radiation?
You can narrow down UV radiation into three wavelength ranges:
- UVA = 400nm – 315nm
- UVB = 315nm – 280nm
- UVC = 280nm – 100nm
UVC is the most dangerous of them all and is extremely harmful to both plants and people. Fortunately, grow lights do not produce this radiation. However, UVA and UVB are common among the various types of grow lights in the market.
Both UVA and UVB may be essential components to the healthy growth of your plants. When you introduce the correct amount of UV to your plants, you will help increase their potency, increase their root mass, improve their taste and smell, cause them to branch more and stretch less, and improve their resistance to bacteria, insects and fungus.
They can also pose a significant risk to both plants and humans, depending on the amount of exposure. High exposure to UV radiation can lead to tissue damage in plants and skin cancer on humans.
What Is IR Radiation?
Infrared light makes part of the EMF spectrum with wavelengths that are longer than visible light. The wavelengths range between 700 nanometers to 1 micrometer with the longest wavelength producing the most heat.
Infrared light is composed of three wavelength ranges:
- Near-Infrared: The wavelengths are short and close to being visible. They do not emit a lot of heat.
- Mid-Infrared: The wavelengths are slightly warmer than those in the near-infrared range. You can observe them using special equipment.
- Far-Infrared: The wavelength is the most popular in grow lights. They are long, thereby producing plenty of heat.
The right amount of infrared light can help promote plant stems, flowers, and fruits. However, too much of it can cause excessive heat that may lead to leaf discoloration, stretching of plant nodes, or even plants’ death.
To people, Infrared is harmful to susceptible tissues such as the eyes and skin. Since you cannot detect IR, prolonged exposure can damage your eyes.
Effects of Both UV and IR Uses
Both UV and IR can still cause damages to both plants and humans if not used properly. Your plants require a full spectrum light that gives off the right amount of both UV and IR waves. If not, your plants may suffer a great deal.
Here are some ways that such grow lights could pose a health hazard and how you can help minimize the risks:
Damage to the Eyes
Regardless of the type of light that you chose to focus on and the duration of time, it will likely lead to eye damage if it is intense. Both UVA and UVB affect the eyes in different ways.
Just like blue light, UVA passes the cornea straight to the retina, causing damages that result in cataracts and macular degeneration in some instances.
On the other hand, UVB light leads to the development of growths on the eyes surface. It may also cause inflammation of the cornea, which leads to a temporary loss of vision.
Additionally, infrared light raises the internal temperature of your eyes, thus causing damage.
Exposure of the skin to UV and IR radiation directly results in skin damage, leading to skin cancer. The only difference is that your skin gives you a warning sensation of heat when exposed to IR radiation.
Having skin cancer is a costly, lengthy, and painful process that has no guarantee of recovery. It is especially very tiring to those around you. The best way to deal with it is by taking preventive measures of protecting your skin right before it develops.
Below is a video on whether grow lights can cause cancer:
Grow Light Safety
Fortunately, there are simple ways you can protect yourself when handling grow lights:
- You always need to wear safety glasses whenever you enter a grow room or handle your artificial grow light. Check out my recommendations. Moreover, you need to wear products that have IR filters or reflective coatings.
- You should also ensure that the grow lights’ hanging distance is about 8 feet from the ground. Additionally, it would help if you tried to maintain around 3 feet from any light fixture. However, it all depends on the size of your grow tent.
- When inside your grow tent, it is best to have long-sleeved dressing and show as little skin as possible. By doing so, you can prevent the chances of skin exposure to radiation that may lead to the development of cancer cells.
- It would be paramount if you also remembered to create a safety manual for everyone who may come into contact with your lighting. Ensure that everyone has enough information on the dangers of exposure to both UV and IR radiation.
Different Types of Grow Lights With Radiation
There are various types of grow lights that emit radiation. Some of them include:
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Lights
HID bulbs light due to a chemical reaction that happens when electrodes react with ionized gas in a light bulb. In the process, the bulb produces plenty of infrared radiation, which consists of about 30 percent of the wavelength. These types of lights are a popular choice for beginner gardeners due to their low installation cost.
LED Grow Lights
LEDs consist of several diodes that work together to produce light. The most common light wavelength is blue and red. However, some LEDs also have UV rays.
You can also benefit your plants with infrared rays by attaching infrared emitting diodes. Most of the LED grow lights have heavy-duty peaks in both the blue and red colors because plants prefer the two colors for optimal growth.
T5 Grow Lights
T5 bulbs work similarly to HIDs. The chemical reaction that causes your bulb to light also emits some small amounts of IR radiation. T5 grow lights are also one of the best types of grow lights. These bulbs emit a lot of Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) that is beneficial for plant growth.
While IR and UV radiation may benefit plants’ growth, it is a cause of concern to the users of grow lights. The EMF radiation these bulbs emit can lead to serious medical problems if you are not careful enough.
However, by fully understanding the health risks that come with using grow lights, you stand a better chance of protecting yourself from their dangers. You can, therefore, benefit from their technology without having to worry about anything.