Coil Type UV Bulbs, Don't Use Them.

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Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
There is a huge problem within the reptile industry and it shows no sign of stopping. Every pet store you walk into is selling coil type or compact florescent UV bulbs. They are marketed under at least 3 different brands and they are dangerous and sometimes harmful to use. They can cause eye irritations and even blindness in some cases. DO NOT USE THEM! It is not worth the risk. There are other, better ways to give your tortoises UV.

Early on, when these things first hit the market, there was clearly a problem. The manufacturers/sellers recognized the problem and claimed to fix it. Well they didn't. Just recently I saw a friends bearded dragon with its eyes all bugged out. She called me over to see it because he was "pawing" at his eyes constantly. His eyes were swollen up two or three times normal size. All of her parameters sounded good, so I went over to see the set up in person. As soon as I walked in the room, I saw the problem on top of the cage. Some person at the petstore, with the best of intentions, had sold her a "CFL" type UV bulb. She read the package and it sounded great. I told her that I thought this was the source of her problem. I asked her when her eye problems started. She said, "about a week ago". I asked her, "when did you get this new bulb?" She looked at me and I could almost see the lightbulb in her head go on, "about a week ago...", she said. She removed the bulb and replaced it with a mercury vapor bulb. Within three days the swelling had subsided and the "pawing" stopped. It appears there was no permanent damage and the lizard has been fine ever since.

I realize that this is only one story, and certainly not "scientific" proof. But there are tons of this type of story out there in the world. There are tons of these stories here on the forum. This problem seems to be worse with species that typically bask a lot, and less prevalent with species like redfoot tortoises that tend to avoid bright light. Bulb distance from the reptile is also a factor. The point is: It is NOT worth the risk. Real sunshine during the warmer parts of the year and mercury vapor bulbs for the rest of the year, are a much better UV source anyway, in my opinion. If something about florescent bulbs is useful or necessary for YOUR particular set up, then try the normal longer tube type bulbs. I don't find these to be all that effective for UV, despite what the manufacturers and sellers claim, but they are at least NOT dangerous or harmful.

I don't know what needs to happen to get these things off the market, but since they are a cheaper alternative, many people who do not know otherwise, buy and use them...
Anyone want to start a campaign to get these off the shelves?
 

Leroy's_homeboy

Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
SE Wisconsin
I've read about the dangers of compact fluorescent bulbs, but if someone could clarify something for me I'd greatly appreciate it.

The dangers that Tom has detailed were caused by a coil type compact fluorescent UV bulb correct? What I would like to know is if it is safe to use a plain ol' compact coil type fluorescent bulb (like you'd use in a living room lamp) to produce ambient light?
 

AnthonyC

New Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
New York
Nicely put! I bet my students could be of assistance! Which manufacturers are selling them, Tom? This would make an excellent research project for them, especially since they have one coming up in 3wks! Would you mind?
 

dmarcus

Active Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas, NV
I have never purchased one of those coil type bulbs because I didn't like the coil, and the reptile store I used to purchase my supplies from in Las Vegas never sold that type, which is a good thing. I think we have seen so many people come onto the forum talking about the problems they were having with there tortoise and a lot of the time we find the culprit is that coil bulb. I think the problem is that they are usually cheaper than a tube type bulb and a new ower who is trying to save money and doesn't know the dangers will go for what looks like a great deal. This may be an issue that may take years to finally fix although I sure hope not..
 

DixieParadise

Active Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Georgetown, TX
Just a suggestion....could someone put a picture up of these bulbs? There are numerous threads...but no pictures that assist in identifying them.
 

Kristina

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Cadillac, Michigan
Leroy said:
I've read about the dangers of compact fluorescent bulbs, but if someone could clarify something for me I'd greatly appreciate it.

The dangers that Tom has detailed were caused by a coil type compact fluorescent UV bulb correct? What I would like to know is if it is safe to use a plain ol' compact coil type fluorescent bulb (like you'd use in a living room lamp) to produce ambient light?

Yes and no. If the bulb is placed so that it is shielded on the sides and pointing straight down (like when suspended inside a dome from the ceiling) then yes, it should be fine. Equivalent wattages and color temperature (Kelvin) are important as well. I personally would not use anything abouve 40 watt equiv. or 5700K.
 

jaizei

Unknown Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Location (City and/or State)
Earth
If the people who have had bad experiences with them would post actual information such as the manufacturer and style of lamp (helical or tubular) then maybe something could be done. Simply posting "don't use coiled uv bulb" doesn't do anything to further our understanding.
 

Kristina

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Cadillac, Michigan
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HollyH8

Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Arizona
Does placing of the bulb make a difference? I have one that is placed straight down and then it's a foot from the top of their shell. And I have a screen over the top. Will this still cause blindness?
 
M

Maggie Cummings

Guest
The UVB rays generally won't go thru a small screen hole...
 

Tony the tank

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Why if this is such a wide spread problem...With the millions of bulbs sold I only here bad things about it here...

I for one have used them without issue and I know many that have...

So could someone please explain how these bulbs blinding are our animals...

Tom..I've been looking everywhere for information about the dangers of these bulbs...Can you explain what the trouble was when they first came out?

I am aware they did some research on the subject...but wasn't aware they actually found some issues( except for manufacture failure to include detailed instructions) and they also blamed it on possible user error...But the researchers couldn't find anything that could cause the flash burns...

Something else i find unusual is everyone is told to give up there Coil bulbs because they MIGHT be the cause of temp blindness in animals...However everyone preaches how great the MVB bulbs even after they have been confirmed to cause flash burns on animals.....




Tom said:
There is a huge problem within the reptile industry and it shows no sign of stopping. Every pet store you walk into is selling coil type or compact florescent UV bulbs. They are marketed under at least 3 different brands and they are dangerous and sometimes harmful to use. They can cause eye irritations and even blindness in some cases. DO NOT USE THEM! It is not worth the risk. There are other, better ways to give your tortoises UV.

Early on, when these things first hit the market, there was clearly a problem. The manufacturers/sellers recognized the problem and claimed to fix it. Well they didn't. Just recently I saw a friends bearded dragon with its eyes all bugged out. She called me over to see it because he was "pawing" at his eyes constantly. His eyes were swollen up two or three times normal size. All of her parameters sounded good, so I went over to see the set up in person. As soon as I walked in the room, I saw the problem on top of the cage. Some person at the petstore, with the best of intentions, had sold her a "CFL" type UV bulb. She read the package and it sounded great. I told her that I thought this was the source of her problem. I asked her when her eye problems started. She said, "about a week ago". I asked her, "when did you get this new bulb?" She looked at me and I could almost see the lightbulb in her head go on, "about a week ago...", she said. She removed the bulb and replaced it with a mercury vapor bulb. Within three days the swelling had subsided and the "pawing" stopped. It appears there was no permanent damage and the lizard has been fine ever since.

I realize that this is only one story, and certainly not "scientific" proof. But there are tons of this type of story out there in the world. There are tons of these stories here on the forum. This problem seems to be worse with species that typically bask a lot, and less prevalent with species like redfoot tortoises that tend to avoid bright light. Bulb distance from the reptile is also a factor. The point is: It is NOT worth the risk. Real sunshine during the warmer parts of the year and mercury vapor bulbs for the rest of the year, are a much better UV source anyway, in my opinion. If something about florescent bulbs is useful or necessary for YOUR particular set up, then try the normal longer tube type bulbs. I don't find these to be all that effective for UV, despite what the manufacturers and sellers claim, but they are at least NOT dangerous or harmful.

I don't know what needs to happen to get these things off the market, but since they are a cheaper alternative, many people who do not know otherwise, buy and use them...
Anyone want to start a campaign to get these off the shelves?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
It is not known why only this only happens sometimes. Maybe it is only bulbs from a certain plant, or only bulbs that are on one end or the other of some manufacturing tolerance. What IS known is that these bulbs frequently do cause eye irritation and sometimes blindness. I have seen it many times and so have lots of others.

The above example of the bearded dragons was through a screen top, btw, for everyone's knowledge.

In all of my years and all of the applications where I have seen Mercury Vapor bulbs used, I have never seen a single one cause any problem. The only thing that I have found to worry about with the MVB's is placing them at the right distance for the proper basking temp.

I don't know how many of these bulbs are sold every day, but I am guessing we only see the tip of the iceberg here on the forum. My friend with the beardie didn't report what happened on any forums or even tell anyone about it. She just returned the bulb and replaced it with a MVB.
 

Tony the tank

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Tom.. If you do a search on photokeratitis in reptiles.. You will see quite a few referencing MVB.. T Rex ,megaray and I believe Zoomed had a major recall on there MVB....The cause was traced back to the manufacture (the bulbs weren't coated with phosphorus)..and we're producing extremely high levels of UVC...

I would imagine that millions of these CFB have been sold to date...(there cheap and readily available)... That if it was an inherit flaw in these bulbs..That the Internet would be loaded with unhappy customers sharing there bad experience...But the only negative statements regarding CFB I'm able to find bring me back to this site..

I myself have used CFB without issue... (not knowing any better I even used them in reflective fixtures)...No issues....I now use megaray Zoological bulbs because they work for my application.. But I was warned by the manufacturer to test output at min distance using a UV meter as to much UV can cause photokeratitis..


Tom wouldnt you think ..based on a numbers game...more are sold, more are in use..thus creating a larger user base... We should statistically see more complaints....but again there not there.

Well who can argue with staying on the side of caution... But I really think people should do there homework and become informed on the proper use and setup of UV lights.. CFB ,MVB ,and flouresent tubes all have there usefulness in setting up a healthy safe environment for our reptiles..
 

ascott

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
I often am curious; suppose I am some lady who has a screaming child next to me in a pet store, (standing there thinking my kid is loud and rotten and want them to hush up....jeeeez:p)

Little boy whoever, is screaming and yelling that he wants a little turtle (really pointing at a russian tortoise) and will not let up...so mommy whateveryouwant buys the little turtle, the clerk says "you need to buy these two lights, a coil bulb and a heat light" so mommy whateveryouwant says okay just give me the stuff so little boy whoever hushes up....

They get home and mommy puts the little turtle in a 10 gallon tank, pours the sand into the tank, plops in little tommy turtle, plugs in those lights and points them right in on tommy turtle and tosses in a bit of the fruit loop looking dry food the clerk at the pet store says tommy turtle eats....little boy whoever stares and taps on the glass
yelling and leaning into the top of the tank, tapping tommy turtle, picking him up----ooops he dropped him, oh well little boy whoever says and he and mommy laugh ...it is bed time so little boy whoever runs off to bed....mommy shuts down the damn lights because she is getting a head ache with all that bright light....next day little boy whoever walks by and does not even look at tommy turtle...hmmm the thrill wears off quickly. mommy turns the lights on every day in the morning and turns them off every night on her way onto bed....a few days go by and mommy walks by and sees tommy turtle sleeping, they are kinda cute she says...sees that the fruit loop food still is in the dish so he does not need anymore till that is all gone....so a couple weeks go by ....mommy walks by the tank and notices that tommy turtle is not moving so much, hmm he looks a little weird...so mommy leans over the top and gives em a tap...nothing, wholly crap she says--he's dead. little boy whoever never sheds a tear, mommy bags em and tosses in the trash and puts the tank away for the next victim....

now, my question to you is? I wonder if this woman will ever know what exactly killed the little turtle....food, sand, no water--wait they don't need water right, the wrong lighting....hmmmm, sad thing is that so many people do just this with the exact results....

These people are not going to go online and say that the lights killed the turtle.....the food was not right...the sand caused impaction....the turtle died of dehydration....the turtle died due to stress...etc....

My point is that so many people buy turtles and tortoise just as some buy a hamster or pet rat and when it goes wrong, oh well....bag it and never think about it again.....disposable.

So Tony the Tank, I can see where you are coming from in your conviction, but I also know that your statement does not always apply;

"That the Internet would be loaded with unhappy customers sharing there bad experience."

I also wish that everything I watched on the news was true, I wish that all that the government told us was true, I wish that the easter bunny , santa, tooth fairy all still visited my house as when I was a child :D

The internet is simply a great source to collect good AND bad information. We have to base our life choices on what we know, what we learn what we observe and what our gut tells us, IMHO.

I personally have one of the coil bulbs Zilla 25 rainforest something or another ....my mother used this bulb to kill a gecko that was given to her that use to be a classroom lizard until, well that teacher was done with the project...my adorable mother, always thinks she knows better than I (silly her :p:p:p) and she set that poor little guy up in a 10 gallon tank, plopped him in there, lite that poor little guy up with the bulb and then called me 4 days later after it was dead with this question "why do you think he died" yeah, so I love her, never scolded her, never talked down to her....I simply said Mom, maybe he was sick when you got him....spared her feelings. I know she will never have another reptile, not really her thing...and I will breach the subject with her on another day with no confrontational conversation but rather just put the info out in her universe for any possible future reference :D I only wish she would have gone over with me what she was going to use PRIOR to doing it....

Rest in peace all the tommy turtles :tort:
 

StudentoftheReptile

Active Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Alabama
I've heard several stories over the years about these CF coil-type bulbs being too bright and causing blindness in some reptiles. Definitely something not right with those products.

Not to go off-topic, but I feel the same way about heat rocks (aha "hot rocks" or heat stones). I mean, totally obsolete product that has been proven to be harmful even when used correctly. Yet you still find them on the shelf at any pet store that sells herp supplies.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Tony the tank said:
Tom.. If you do a search on photokeratitis in reptiles.. You will see quite a few referencing MVB.. T Rex ,megaray and I believe Zoomed had a major recall on there MVB....The cause was traced back to the manufacture (the bulbs weren't coated with phosphorus)..and we're producing extremely high levels of UVC...

I would imagine that millions of these CFB have been sold to date...(there cheap and readily available)... That if it was an inherit flaw in these bulbs..That the Internet would be loaded with unhappy customers sharing there bad experience...But the only negative statements regarding CFB I'm able to find bring me back to this site..

I myself have used CFB without issue... (not knowing any better I even used them in reflective fixtures)...No issues....I now use megaray Zoological bulbs because they work for my application.. But I was warned by the manufacturer to test output at min distance using a UV meter as to much UV can cause photokeratitis..


Tom wouldnt you think ..based on a numbers game...more are sold, more are in use..thus creating a larger user base... We should statistically see more complaints....but again there not there.

Well who can argue with staying on the side of caution... But I really think people should do there homework and become informed on the proper use and setup of UV lights.. CFB ,MVB ,and flouresent tubes all have there usefulness in setting up a healthy safe environment for our reptiles..

Given that most people who don't ever bother to join a forum like this probably don't even know why their baby tortoise has stopped eating and is "biting at the air" when it smells food nearby, I am guessing that this is a much bigger problem than anyone knows. I HAVE seen more than enough examples to convince me that there IS a serious problem with these bulbs. I don't find the internet to be all that reliable a source for good information. I trust what I see with my own eyes every day.

If you want to go ahead and continue using these, well, go ahead. In the meantime, I want to warn people that a significant number of these bulbs DO cause a problem. In my opinion, there is nothing to justify the risk.



Oh. I answered Tony's post before I saw page two here. Great analogy Angela. That's what I was trying to get across. You just did it much more eloquently. (and humorously)

Very good point about the hot rocks, SS. I think that is exactly the same phenomenon as what has happened with these bulbs. They keep selling, so they keep putting more on the shelf...

Thanks to all, including Tony, for chiming in. Always good to hear all sides of a topic.
 

StudentoftheReptile

Active Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Alabama
Something else I just thought about this morning...

I did some brief research on all the different types of heat and UV bulbs out there last year when preparing for a talk on Herp lighting and heating. This may be old news / no brainer stuff to some, but one thing I found is that the position of the bulb is important.

Specifically, with those CF coil bulbs, they are designed to be in a horizontal position, essentially parallel to the top of the enclosure. Putting them in a regular dome fixture where the CF bulb is pointing down (like a normal incandescent bulb) decreases the alleged UVB output significantly. Now I don't think anyone has put forth any studies on the bulb's position to its brightness...but it got me wondering if some people are having blindness issues with their torts with those bulbs because they're sticking them in the wrong fixtures.

Likewise, MVBs are designed to be angled directly up/down, NOT at an angle. According to my homework, this can cause several things: excess brightness at some points, uneven UVB radiation, and decrease in integrity/lifespan of the bulb (could be why some bulbs don't seem to last long with some people) [shrugs].

Anyway, I thought that was interesting. Certainly could be some cases of people simply not using the product correctly. Mind you, I'm trying to advocate using CF bulbs or anything!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I have never heard that about positioning the CFLs horizontally. "Everybody" sticks them in a regular dome fixture pointing straight down. I had heard about the MVBs. I've seen people use them at an angle with those clamps here on the forum, but I have never seen one used that way in person. Might be why I have never had any problems with them. These two facts could really explain a lot about the variable results people are seeing.

Very interesting info. Great addition to the discussion. Thanks.
 
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