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The impact of flicker from fluorescent lighting on well-being, performance and physiological arousal

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In working environments all over the world, fluorescent tubes are by far the dominating light source. Still, there have been very few studies on the impact of the non-visible flicker from fluorescent tubes. The purpose of the study was to compare the impact on subjective well-being, performance and physiological arousal of fluorescent light powered by conventional and high-frequency ballasts. Thirty-seven healthy males and females were subjected to either condition in a laboratory office on two separate occasions with 1 week in between. Although the methodology was quite extensive, only a few general effects were observed. However, when the light was powered by the conventional ballasts, individuals with high critical flicker fusion frequency (CFF) responded with a pronounced attenuation of EEG alpha waves, and an increase in speed and decrease in accuracy of performance. These results may be understood in terms of heightened arousal in the central nervous system in response to the pronounced light modulation caused by the conventional ballasts. In order to alleviate this potential stress source, it is recommended that fluorescent lighting be powered by electronic high-frequency ballasts of good quality.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 1998

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