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reviewing fluorescent light and it's affects on resin (safe? extremely damaging?)

Jan 1, 2011

    1. numerous times now I've found posts of people warning others to keep their dolls away from fluorescent light, that it is more harmful than sun itself.

      I...don't get it.

      My only understanding is that people get this idea from the fact that tanning beds are fluorescent bulbs.

      But they're not just ANY fluorescent bulbs, they're specially designed tanning bulbs that produce significantly more UVB rays and UVA (UVB being the rays that penetrate our skin and make us tan)

      Think about it. If all fluorescent bulbs were as horrible as the sun, most of us would have pretty horrific sunburns!!

      The first time I came across this assumption I did some research online and found that a study of general fluorescent bulbs produce a near harmless amount of UV and that in a 20day span of exposure of a basic (light fixture) fluorescent bulb, you're taking in about an hours worth of direct sunlight.

      Science says that fluorescent bulbs are literally harmless!

      And I personally don't think that putting your doll in a tanning bed is going to hurt it drastically either.
      your doll will not yellow in the same process you tan.

      Tanning is based on cells reacting in your body and producing melanin.
      This has NOTHING to do with resin and yellowing which is a chemical reaction causing more rapid oxidation.

      I tried to research the yellowing of plastics to find out which UV ray (A, B, or C) is the one that is the "problem" and couldn't pull up anything!
      So please don't chuck your doll in a tanning bed! as it MAY BE the UVB rays that are doing this!

      This topic is important to me because I lived in a college dorm for 3 years that had fluorescent light and my dolls stayed out. My only doll that noticeably yellowed was the doll that was out of the room more than the other dolls, the one that went out for photos and to meets.
      This proving that sunlight itself is more damaging than fluorescent exposure (from 8(?) bulbs at least)

      I'm personally stating that, from my experience and research, this is a severely false rumor that people are throwing around and putting people in heightened fear for no reason.

      If someone has research or evidence reinforcing the "fluorescent fear" I'd like to see it!
      I'm severely confused at where this rumor is getting validity from!
    2. I think I am happier to know that my florescent lights that I have are not harmful to my doll.. you had some nice information for me.. when I saw the title i got scared.. My living area of my apt is lit by little florescent bulbs and that just happens to be where my doll is.. I have never heard of this issue before you stating so just now.
    3. Fluorescent lights are said to carry UV radiation. Because UV radiation is in sunlight as well as fluorescent lights, I can see how fluorescent lights can come across as bad for resin. Because it has been disproved, obviously, fluorescent lights do not carry enough UV radiation to cause resin yellowing, or the UV radiation was not the cause of yellowing in the first place.
    4. I really can't weigh in on the specific subject of this Discussion, but I would point out that the chemical reaction that causes oxidization in the resin plastic may more likely be caused by heat than the actual light rays themselves. Dolls can yellow in a closet, it depends on the makeup of their particular resin.
      There may or may not be risk of yellowing with any doll.
      I must point out that your example is not an experiment, it is just coincidental research, and happenstance. You did not exactly do a controlled experiment here, so I don't think you can say "disproved" just by casual observance.
      Now, if you really wanted to do an actual experiment, that would be interesting.
      My hypothesis would be that it is heat, not light that exacerbates the yellowing process.
    5. I'd say light does have an effect - my dolls sit on a shelf and one of my cats moved a curtain behind them which meant my DoC Hoo was exposed to more sunlight then the other dolls. He was yellowed more on the side closest to the window (i.e. where the sunshine fell upon him) than elsewhere, but wasn't heated any more than the rest of the dolls were.

      Plus I've had several dolls for more than 5 years now, and they've not yellowed any faster during hot weather than during cold winter weather.

      I've discussed this with a couple of materials scientist friends who say that UVB does increase oxidation in some plastics, so it seems reasonable to assume that it is exposure to UVB rays that accelerates yellowing. Excessive heat may speed up this reaction, but you'd have to be talking extreme heat before it has more of an effect than UVB light. But all resin will yellow even away from UVB light as long as it's in an oygen-containing atmosphere. The only way to stop a doll yellowing completely would be to store it in the dark immersed in an air-proof container filled with inert gas.
    6. Arkady, I think that you can base a hypothesis more on that heat causes the exacerbation of the yellowing process than the actual light rays.
      I would like to point out here (I tried to before but my post went into the ether) that the OP has not done a scientific experiment, it is just coincidental observation.
      It would be interesting to do an actual experiment, with controls and documentation, but I think that the management of all the variables would be incredibly daunting, possibly a task suited to those brave souls who do those measurement spreadsheets in the Specific Size parts of this forum. That was a little sarcasm, proven scientific fact that I am often sarcastic ;).
    7. PhD scientist here. Observations and (library/journal) research are part of the scientific method. So putting down knibitz's evidence as not scientific is simply incorrect. Also, no such thing as a "proven scientific fact." One can support a hypothesis with evidence, but only "prove" through direct observation. The whole point of doing science is accumulating evidence to explain things one cannot observe directly. Like the structure of the atom, inside of the earth, etc. Or why a dolly is turning yellow.

      Having said that, there are many types of fluorescent bulbs out there, and MOST emit very little UV radiation. I have seen the spectrum for a few that do emit UV-- but they aren't common bulbs.

      As for the experiment, I have put resin samples under a UV light source-- a germicidal lamp used for sterilization-- and the resin yellowed in a matter of hours. So there's some direct evidence for you. Experiment done. It didn't seem to happen for UVA radiation, but I need to test a stronger light source, so don't quote me on that.

      Yellowing seems to be due to oxidation. Note the word "seems." That would make what I just said a hypothesis-- something to support with both experimental and background research. Oxidation can be accelerated by various factors. Heat, yes. UV light, yes, in some cases. Oxygen or another highly reactive element or compound, in all cases. Arkady is on the money.
    8. I personally wasn't considering heat a strong factor in any of this since I'm focusing mostly on what most of us would encounter - being in a building with fluorescent lights.

      In most of those situations temperature is not regulated by those lights, it is some other heat source may it be the exterior temp or a fireplace warming the area.

      Also, do we know how much of a drastic factor heat is in this situation? Because if it's a strong factor, than my dolls should be yellower than someone's doll in Wisconsin who has kept them in the same conditions.


      I found a diagram of oxidation in plastics 8D I don't totally understand it though! HALP!
      Source: http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/189

      And readers, please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Fluorescent light is not going to affect your doll. I'm just saying that it's not going to harm your doll any more rapidly than sunlight would.
      That was the problem I kept encountering on DoA, people claiming that Fluorescent light was worse than sun and dolls should be far away from it. That, to me, is a completely untrue statement that needs to be cleared up!
    9. I think it's safe to say that as far as UV goes, keeping your doll inside in an office situation (with no sunlight and only safe fluorescent lights) is safer than keeping them in a room with windows or outside. The bulbs that have very small amounts of UV are a few of the extremely bright broad spectrum fluorescent lamps that mimic sunlight. But not all of them, mind you. I don't think these are in use in most offices.

      Having said that, I have noticed fading in items placed on the walls in the situation you describe-- no outside sunlight. So dyes that are fugitive, like reds, are still at risk. So inside storage is definitely not a panacea (not that you described it that way :)).

      As for heat, comparing SC to Wisc would have its problems, as the quality of sunlight is different in SC, too. Often different amounts of humidity, too. It's possible that could play a role, as well.

      Edit to add: Ugh. That's a horrible looking computer shell. But keep in mind it's made of ABS plastic, not urethane. The chemistry of yellowing in urethane seems to be different.
    10. you're supposed to see this: http://www.vintagecomputing.com/wp-content/images/snes_plastic/mac_oxidize_1.jpg
      the diagram, not the a photo ^^;

      and I understand that it's different because every polymer will have different qualities.
      However, I'm sure you can still take general ideas from it. :)
      This definitely isn't a THIS IS HOW IT WORKS! but more of a "ooo lookie"
    11. Actually, I read the entire article. ;)
    12. :B I pulled out that diagram just for a reason.
      I read the discussion that included the professor but neglected to read the rest of it.
      Did I miss anything significant?
    13. Here is info from the site where that diagram was originally pulled from, specialchem4polymers.com (a site for polymer chemists): (this info accompanies the original diagram, bolding is mine):

      " The important aspect of this scheme is that once oxidation starts-which it always will-it sets off a chain reaction which accelerates degradation unless stabilizers are used to interrupt the oxidation cycle.

      Exposure to sunlight and some artificial lights can have adverse effects on the useful life of plastic products. UV radiation can break down the chemical bonds in a polymer. This process is called photodegradation and ultimately causes cracking, chalking, color changes and the loss of physical properties.

      Photodegradation, once started, essentially follows the same scheme as shown above. Since photodegradation generally involves sunlight, thermal oxidation takes place in parallel with photooxidation.

      Photodegradation differs from thermal oxidation in that it can be started by absorption of UV light. Most pure polymers are theoretically incapable of absorbing UV light directly. Trace amounts of other compounds within the polymer, such as degradation products or catalyst residues, can however absorb UV. For this reason, effective thermal and processing stabilization is a prerequisite for effective long-term light stabilization."

      So basically what it is saying is that in general, there are two types of degradation of plastics (including urethanes): photodegradation, which is started by absorption of UV light, and thermal degradation, which is started by absorption of heat. As light and heat often go hand in hand, these are often seen together. Once degradation begins, there is a chain reaction: the products of the first reaction set off the second, and so on.

      Pure polyurethane shouldn't have these problems. But the reality is that there are residues left behind during processing that start these chain reactions. And plastics manufacturers will add other chemicals which can also be at fault.

      Antioxidant chemicals can be added to the polymer (I use these for the eyes I've been casting), BUT depending on the antioxidant, they can sometimes actually make the yellowing worse. The same is true for certain pigments, like titanium dioxide (a white pigment). All in all, the chemistry is seriously complex. It varies not only from plastic to plastic, but within a group of plastics, like polyurethanes. Different formulations of polyurethane behave differently, which explains why yellowing varies from company to company.
    14. Stella Maris, nobody "threw down" here. Sakuraharu simply stated her observations and her opinions. No one is claiming to have the 100% definite scientific answer. It honestly feels like you are fishing for an argument ("who decides what science is?") that is not the topic of the thread ("what is the science behind yellowing?"). No one is bickering but you. Stop feeling so threatened. This is what a discussion looks like. The second a different opinion or observation comes in, it does not turn into a debate.

      Personally, I know little about science and would much rather leave it to those who study and work with it. I think it'd be fascinating if someone did a very formal test on what does and doesn't yellow resin - though as said by someone else, there are so many variables to factor in: how old the resin is, what type of resin, what exactly was mixed into the batch, and so on.
    15. As far as I can tell, there are two things that cause yellowing in dolls: oxidation (which I know nothing about) and pigments fading. Fluorescent lights definitely cause colors to fade- I work in a picture framing shop, so I have seen what fluorescent lights do. Red in particular fades dramatically, even when kept away from windows. So in a "normal skin" toned doll, there is some pink/red pigment in there to make the flesh tone, and fluorescent lights would cause the reds to fade making the yellow more prominent, thus "yellowing". The amount of fading probably depends on the company, since their different resins may use different pigments that do not fade the same. And obviously this wouldn't hold true with white skin dolls, since there's not much pigment to fade.

      Anyway, point is that even though fluorescent lighting is not more harmful than the sun, it is still harmful. So who cares how the warnings about fluorescent lighting is stated? You have a problem because someone claimed it was more harmful than the sun when it's not? Your thread has already made someone think that fluorescent lighting isn't harmful at all. >_>

    16. I have to agree with nanlady - SetllaMaris, no one is getting defensive but you, but I'm sorry it's making you feel that way.

      there are endless possibilities to anything.
      The research I've found in the past has supported the theory that your normal fluorescent light fixtures contain significantly less UV than sun rays.
      I stand by that as the strongest theory and think it is ridiculous that people continue to throw strong warning to members telling them to keep their dolls out of rooms with fluorescent lighting. This unsupported statement that I can find no research to back up is putting unaware members in needless fear, especially though - like me - who live(ed) in places with only fluorescent lighting.

      There are all kinds of flukes that can happen with resin, and even with light bulbs, and everything is different.
      But in general, from the research I've collected, I've concluded a strong case against the theory that fluorescent light contains more UV than sun.
      And that, taking that as the only factor, it is not as harmful as some make it to be.
    17. I think what a number of people are trying to say is that while you may be looking at that as the only factor, it isn't the only factor that can influence yellowing or cause other changes in the resin.

      I have to agree with others who have noted that different pigments respond differently to various types of light, and some of those pigments may be present in the dolls. In other words, it is not merely the properties of the resin alone that must be taken into consideration.

      By making a blanket statement that it is totally proven safe, you are making it sound like these things are irrelevant, or not a factor, when they absolutely can be. You may mean 'only to the resin itself, divorced of the pigments' but it doesn't really read that way.

    18. I can't possibly bring in and discuss every factor here, because that brings in everything under the sun from what's on your hands to the humidity, to the resin itself.

      But taking your doll in the same conditions from one room with an incandescent light bulb or a room with just natural sunlight, is most likely not going to affect your doll any different in your average situation.

      I'm treating this discussion the same as the discussion of taking your doll out into the sun. The general agreement is that you should keep your doll out of sunlight as much as possible to avoid increasing the discoloration.
      I'm saying that from what I've found about fluorescent lighting it's no big deal with fluorescent lighting.

      Have I made it sound like everyone should hurry to rush their dolls out of their rooms into safer fluorescent lighting?? :? I'm sorry if I did because that's not the intention ^^;
      The intention is simple that if you have fluorescent lighting in your room, it's not a huge deal and you don't need to be afraid of having your dolls out, if it's otherwise safe conditions.
    19. Pardon me, Knibitz, but I am not being "defensive", I am not defending anything, anyone or any theory. I am simply stating that you made an erroneous statement in the title of your thread by claiming that you have disproven (which BTW is not a word in the English language but I digress) the theory that florescent light is harmful or may be a factor in the color change in resin. You have not made your case, therefore it is you who should be defensive, although I don't see what good it will do, as nothing else that has been said so far has been vaguely conclusive.
      Perhaps you are taking this a little personally, please don't. If you present a theory, you need to be prepared to defend it.
      I, as many others I am sure, am very interested in what factors affect resins, and would like to talk about it. I think this thread has brought up and presented quite precise thinking about the make ups of these plastics.
    20. The actual question was, where did the rumour come from? Well, in some cases from people who make resin dolls for a living. Look at the warning for any realskin doll from Iplehouse: "[FONT=±¼¸²][FONT=¹ÙÅÁ][FONT=±¼¸²]In addition, when the doll is exposed for a long time under the strong indoor light, the doll can be changed into green or yellow."

      I know they did experiments with their realskin UV resin in sunlight, but I don't know what they did with fluorescent light. While I've never in my nearly three years in the hobby heard someone say fluorescent lights are worse for resin than sunlight, I have heard various things about UV like some Japanese fans who went out of their way to get museum quality light bulbs (which I can't remember if they're low-UV or no-UV) for the rooms they kept their dolls in, that kind of thing. Seems a bit overboard for me, but a pretty easy way to get some peace of mind if you do feel lights could be bad for your expensive, precious dolls. If you're wrong about that, it's not a particularly harmful misconception.

      I have no idea which is worse for resin. About as far as I go is to try to keep them out of direct sunlight. However, I think it shouldn't come as a big surprise that some with a great deal of experience in the hobby are going to react in a skeptical fashion when you come in saying, "why are so many people so wrong? I disproved what they believe!"