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Exploring the Effects of Light Radiation on Human Health

Waiting for research to prove what we already suspect to be true could be a fatal mistake. Enjoy this short read members of Growers Network. Feel free to leave comments.

These days, most people already know enough about the harmful effects of sunlight to apply sunscreen before spending an extended amount of time outdoors on a sunny day. But this wasn’t always the case. Although early civilizations recognized that overexposure to the sun resulted in damaged skin, it wasn’t until the 1940s that an effective form of sunscreen became widely available. And even then, such lotion didn’t receive widespread adoption until decades later when scientific studies proved the health threat of too much sun was real.

Consider all the lives lost to skin cancer while waiting for science to confirm what was already widely known about the damaging effects of harmful rays. Unfortunately, we’re in the same position today in terms of the lights used in modern grow rooms. Common sense suggests the light radiation used to artificially grow plants is dangerous for the cultivators who are exposed to it for an extended amount of time. However, without a wealth of studies to support the notion — and in the absence of a commercialized market saturated with solutions to address the issue — safety’s simply not a consideration for many growers and their employers.

That’s why we at RayWear have made it our mission to educate the industry about the dangers of modern cannabis cultivation and provide protective solutions for the men and women who work in these harsh environments. To help you better understand the harm that light radiation can inflict upon humans, here’s a quick look at some of the most serious types of skin cancer facing unprotected cultivators of cannabis.

3 Types of Skin Cancer that May Result from Exposure to Light Radiation

Types of skin cancer that can be caused by light radiation:

Melanoma:

Although melanoma accounts for just 3 percent of all skin cancer cases, it’s responsible for more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths. That makes it the most serious form of skin cancer by far, and, sadly, it’s also the most common one among young adults.

Basal cell carcinomas:

The leading cause of skin cancer tumors, basal cell carcinomas commonly result in small, fleshy bumps that develop on the head and neck, though they can crop up elsewhere as well. This disease is known to grow slowly, and though it rarely spreads to other areas of the body, in severe cases, it can penetrate bones and inflict severe skeletal damage.

Squamous cell carcinomas:

Whereas basal cell carcinomas largely stay put, squamous cell carcinomas can spread to other areas of the body and grow into large masses. This disease generally manifests itself in tumors that often appear as red, scaly patches, though in other cases it takes the form of fleshy nodules.

Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late

Don’t make the same mistake that previous generations made by waiting for research to explain what simply makes sense. Intense lights, especially the kind emitted by modern grow lights, pose a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of today’s cannabis cultivators. So don’t wait until it’s too late. Start protecting yourself today by wearing clothing that shields your skin from the harmful effects of light radiation.

RayWear is the only gear on the market designed specifically for the modern cultivator.

Our patent-pending fabrics offer the most complete protection against the full radiation spectrum endured by today’s growers. Our gear provides up to 99% visible light radiation reduction, significant reduction in infrared (IR) radiation and it has a rating of 50+ UPF (ultraviolet protection factor), the highest rating any fabric can achieve. The safety and comfort of today’s grower is the driving force behind RayWear Clothing Company. Growing is your passion, protecting you is ours.

Visit our Gear page to shop for comfortable, versatile light-protection options, or contact us directly here or send me a PM @RayWearCC for more information.

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I am old enough to learn from my mistakes.

I keep have parts of me cut off. Where sun screen.

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I turn off my UV when in the room. Same goes for C02. And Ozone generators. yes we have some highly dangerous equipment. Proper safety steps, and proper training can cut the risk way way down. I do have some UV resistent clothing but it isnt like a whole body and face suit. figured just turn off the bad. Limit ANY body part exsposure as much as possible. Some studies have linked headaches, siezures even blindness to some of these modern lights.

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Hello Thomas,

That is great to hear of your safety standards in your grow. I am always very happy when I hear growers being aware of and proactive with regards to light radiation. But what many fail to realize is that UV radiation is only a small fraction of the light radiation they are being exposed to. Modern grow lights can produce significant levels of UV, Visible and Infrared (IR). Each of these have there own health risks associated. What we discovered, especially with indoor grows, UV clothing is good, but not effective with regards to Visible and IR. So many growers throw on a coverall and think they are protected. Coveralls are strictly for sanitation and do nothing for light radiation protection. They are only meant to protect the plant from us, not the worker from the environment. For example, think of those using LEDs, which are amazing lights by the way, but they usually produce massive amounts of HEV (High Energy Visible) light from the 400nm-500nm range. Obviously, without knowing your light set-up I couldn’t speak to your specific range, but most growers only consider the UV aspect and are completely unaware of the risks associated with Visible and IR, which account for much more exposure and absorption. When creating our gear, this was the huge hurdle we had to overcome. Creating effective protection that worked thru the relative light spectrum growers were working in regardless of location or light source; outdoor, indoor and greenhouse.

And yes, there are a plethora of medical and health issues caused by light radiation. It is not just cancer, but skin disease, production of free radicals, migraines, etc. Our entire mission has been the education of this topic and trying to provide effective solutions. Safety doesn’t mean changing your entire operation. Protection is as easy as changing your shirt.

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Hello Ethan,

We always encourage sunscreen, but surprisingly, many studies show that those who use sunscreen actually get exposed to more light radiation for a multitude of reasons

  • can’t tell if you missed a spot
  • can’t tell if the sunscreen has been applied evenly
  • forget to re-apply often enough
  • false sense of protection leads to prolonged exposure time

But the main push back we saw with sunscreen was growers didn’t want to bring contaminants into their grow.

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Yes for sure the IR aswell, didnt mention that. I dont have control over that. kinda why i stay covered up.

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Hi Daniel,

First of all, I appreciate your efforts to protect people! But I would like to make a few things more clear:
The German Federal Institute for Occupational Safty and Health provides a 195 page report unfortunatly only available in German ;(

The following table will summarize the possible negative effects of “light” radiation:

Skin_de

My summary:

  • protecting the eyes is most important! Especially the blue-light hazard is an serious issue.
  • protecting the skin is never a bad idea but light will be the smalles problem because of the fact that UV and IR is almost not existent in most indoor facilities (especially if they use LED tech).
  • HPS emitts a fair amount of NIR-A arround 830nm
  • UV-A und UV-B can be supplemented, but if it is done properly, it should always be far below the levels in nature
  • LED emitts almost no NIR (if it does only in the far-red region around 730nm)
  • UV-A can be realized with LEDs too. But UV-A is still expensive and therefore LED manufactures only apply homeopathic doses. UV-B is far to expensive
  • In general indoor lighting is always far below the level the sun provides for example in Cali :wink:

But of course if people without a profound knowledge play around with UV lights it can be quite dangerous.

If we talk about common UV-A, VIS and NIR-A radiation in indoor facilities (350 - 850nm), photosensitive reactions or heating of the skin are the worst things that can happen to the skin. The heating issue will be eased by the circulating blood which will spread the heat.

cheers

Christoph

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Hi,

just another graph to show why blue-light hazard is called blue-light-hazard:

Sorry for the German labels but I am to tired to translate :wink:

But again, it can be an issue for your eye but not for the skin…

cheers

Christoph

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Hello Christoph,

Thank you very much for your weighing in on this topic. Your response is actually the exact industry accepted opinion we are desperately trying to shine a light on (pun intended). I am familiar with the study you are referencing along with many others that downplay the effects of light radiation with regards to your skin. What you classify as "Blue-Light Hazard", I previously mentioned earlier in this thread as High Energy Visible (HEV).

But let’s get into the science. Yes, protecting your eyes is extremely important and thank you for saying so. Having said that, the huge error in all these studies, the one your chart shows, is the treatment of visible light as non-deleterious. This is a medical faux pas. Your study simply states a “photosensetive reaction” for the skin from VIL and to quote you in your last post… "But again, it can be an issue for your eye but not for the skin…:. This is simply a false statement. There is plenty of data and studies to support this. Here is one for reference.

This study directly contradicts your “Blue Light Hazard” statements. Here is the conclusion of this study in direct quotes.

"In this manuscript the effect of multiple exposure of skin to VL were explored for pro-pigmentation activity. Interestingly multiple exposure with VL was able to induce pigmentation in explants extracted from Caucasian skin. Further exploration at biological endpoints suggested that besides pigment formation due to photo-oxidation activities, VL was able to activate the whole melanogenesis process…Taken together these results demonstrate that in addition to UV, VL can have significant impact on producing uneven pigmentation in skin which is a main factor in photoaging. Furthermore this is the first report that preconditioning of the skin with VL, followed by multiple exposures to VL, can result in pigment formation. Thus photoexposure and photodamage should not be considered strictly as a result of UV exposure since the skin is exposed to whole spectra of wavelengths including VL, and VL can induce photodamage pathways in a manner similar to UV."

I find it odd that the only push back I get, or attempts to minimize this topic, doesn’t come from medical professionals, radiation specialists, academia or the countless growers that I know who suffer from a laundry list of medical conditions ranging from migraines to Melanoma (all directly correlated with light radiation exposure). No, they all recognize the obvious significant potential risks and support the steps we are taking. The only push back we get comes directly from those in the grow light industry. Visible light has been linked to melanogenesis, photoaging, production of free radicals, skin disease, etc. Yet light companies refuse to acknowledge this. I could be a conspiracy theorist, but when everyone is saying there is nothing to worry about, I immediately think of all the other times we have been told not to worry…

  • Lead paint - completely safe to paint your house with

  • Coal minors - don’t worry, it is a very safe work condition

  • Medicinal cannabis - no data there to show this plant helps people

  • Global warming - no data to support the claims that humans negatively affect the climate

  • Cigarettes - breathing smoke into your lungs is not harmful to your health

  • Grow lights - working in a room flooded with light radiation is completely safe

History doesn’t remember too kindly those who quickly dismiss health risks.

Now I sadly admit there is so much we don’t know about light radiation, specifically in the modern cannabis cultivation environment. Visible light has been horribly understudied. But there is so much data out there that raises tons of red flags. To willfully ignore or minimize those concerns is disingenuous to the community and those who are actually working in those environments.

Now I have said ad nauseam that Grow Lights are NOT THE ENEMY. They are an amazing, powerful and necessary tool that are vital to our industry. But with any tool it is our responsibility to learn how to operate around it safely. I always reference a hammer. If you bang your thumb with a hammer, are you mad at the hammer or yourself for being careless? Grow lights are designed to cause a biological response by flooding an enclosed space with massive amounts of light radiation. Can we be shocked when other biological entities (humans) in that space are also being affected by that same radiation?

Our mission is the re-education of the community. We want to work with light companies and growers to create effective and safe environments with SOPs that include PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for the industry. We are not selling snake oil or utilizing scare tactics. If you don’t want the solutions we’ve created for this specific problem then that’s fine, but to act as though the problem doesn’t exist will be deadly and costly for the industry. I would love the opportunity to discuss this with you directly on a phone call. I believe communication and the sharing of information is paramount to the protection of the community and creating a dialogue with those like yourself is the only way to exact change. I truly hope we are able to speak soon.

Thank You,

Dan Jordan

[email protected]

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Hello Chris,

Again, I truly do appreciate your engagement with this topic. This conversation is so important and I am ecstatic we are communicating together. This is why I love the Growers Network!!! How else could this conversation be happening on Black Friday! You are saving me from hordes of angry shoppers.

But firstly, let me apologize if it came across as accusing you personally, or the grow light industry, of not caring. In no way was that my intent. I absolutely believe you both care. I was referring to the “push back” to this topic, which was the tone of your posts, crystallized by you saying in bold that blue light is only an issue for the eyes and not the skin. That is a strong statement and unfortunately so many take it at face value. Just look at the complete lack of employee safety standards in the industry currently. But in no way does that mean you don’t care and I apologize of my post implied so.

As for the data. Thank you for introducing it into the conversation. With forum topics like this, more often than not, I try to keep the conversations lighter and more guided towards awareness of the topic. I will happily go into the data with those who are interested, but for many it can be an overwhelming issue with so many variables that it becomes hard to follow. I have had so many conversations where I can visibly see people mentally checking out and their minds start wondering. But for future posts, I will try to be more data-centric as not to seem without merit or credibility.

But what you said about indications vs. facts is brilliant. I use the verbiage red flags, but I believe we are in total agreement. There are so many indicators out there signaling a cause for concern that are not being addressed with employee health and safety. It doesn’t help when professionals echo your previous sentiments. The reality is that cannabis cultivation environments are unique and the health risks associated have yet to be fully realized and accounted for. There is so much we still don’t know. But history has proven so many times that where we thought things were harmless, we were wrong. Our goal is to work with you and others to have meaningful conversations that improve the industry and community. So again, thank you for pushing the needle forward by being apart of the conversation.

Have a great day
Dan

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Hi Dan,

Many thanks for your post. I appreciate it!
We have started researching the impact of lighting on living beeings more than 10 years ago. But our focus has always been more on the positive effects. You are coming from the opposite side of the medal and I hope I can learn more about it…

cheers

Christoph

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By the way we do have a tunable 24 channel LED device (350 - 1,100 nm) which could be used to dig deeper into that topic. If you know some researcher how might be interested, we would be glad borrowing it :wink:

cheers

Christoph

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Wow, awesome to be talking about this!!! Maybe this is a good time mention that BIOS Lighting has two biologically-related LED lighting Business Units, not just grow lighting…!

We shorten them to Ag and Hu.

The Grow Light division (Ag, of which I am focused, and we have Neil from NASA as our lead research scientist) and the Circadian Lighting division (Hu, of which we innovate and teach extensively on human-safe lighting, with Robert, also from NASA). Yes, we are that nerdy!

You should definitely take a look at our Hu Lighting Division here!


http://www.bioshumanlight.com/

Please reach out to me if you have any questions about either BIOS Ag or Hu!

@BIOS_Lighting_KA @BIOS_Lighting_JL

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In which usage are you usage the word homeopathic. It does not fit in the contex.

The rest of the information is spot on. Bravo.

My father of blessed memory did ALL the early electron microscopy of the eye. Jack Kayes MD PhD. 1955 to 1967.

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Hi @ethan,

In this context I just used homeopathic (as a metaphor) to emphasize that most modern LED grow light don’t distribute much UV light, even if the claim to do so. The problem is still the cost of such LEDs and also transmission issues, because most materials do not allow UV light to pass through. There is some special glass like Borosilicate glass, but it is also expensive.

What we have seen so far is, that even if manufacturers claim to have UV light, a real world measurement will often uncover much lower levels of UV compared to the claims from the data sheets.

Next time I will use “homeopathic”. On the other hand, continuously improving my writen english is also an interesting aspect of this forum. :wink: Thanks for your feedback.

cheers

Christoph

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@cschubert,

Thank you for the clarification.

Homeopathic to me is Mitchell and Webb
Very funny.

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Yes for me it is exactly the same, but I always try to don’t underestimate the power of faith (aka self-healing) So I would never say that it isn’t working in gerneral…

In Germany we use “homeopathic” also as a metaphor for a very very low dose

Thanks for sharing the link.

cheers

Christoph

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I don’t underestimate it, I over estimate it.

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Just wanted to tie into this post with a little shoutout to Dan Jordan: I wore my Raywear hiking this weekend and I was super cozy and protected from the harsh Arizona sun too! Thanks @RayWearCC!

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I just received the best payment for service rendered.

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