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News & Updates

May 10, 2017

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UVB Meter Owners, Thread Excerpt

Hello All,
I have a question. Recently I was helping a person on the boards, who is in Australia. She was using the reptisun 10, but was getting a new light & said that they were discontinuing carrying the reptisun 10 over there. So, she bought a UVB light by the name of Repta Sun 10%. I am still waiting to hear if she got a bulb or a compact, but either way the light doesn't sound very good. She mentioned her dragon was closing one eye & then the other, etc. So, we know what that means. I told her to change the bulb out right now, & asked to make sure she had a bright halogen in for basking. Does anyone know anything about these bulbs yet? Has any testing been done on them so far? Here is the link to the products & lighting in Australia:

Just click on either the compact lights or the flourescent lights. It doesn't have any information on them, of course, other than it saying that they are strong UVB lights & meant only for high reptiles with high UVB requirements.

Thanks for any information you may have.

Hi, Tracie.
You're absolutely right to be concerned. I can't believe how many reports are now coming in, of reptiles closing their eyes under some of these new lamps, almost certainly kerato-conjunctivitis due to high UVB output in very low wavelengths.... I had another one this morning, a bearded dragon under a new "Zilla" Desert 15watt T8 tube at a distance of 7 inches.

Without testing these lamps there is no way of knowing if that's what it is, but it certainly sounds like it. I went to the Aussie website I'm familiar with, to see if your contact could get ZooMed Reptisuns there, but alas! The same thing has happened. They too are selling an "unknown" brand called "Outback Max"!!

I think (just guessing, but several companies from Europe have now done so) these are Chinese imports. Apparently if you are a small company you can pay the Chinese factories to create a "Brand" just for you. They make you a box with your name on it, stamp the name on the tubes, everything... and then you can buy as many as you want, very cheaply, For reselling at a much better profit than buying in a big brand name like ZooMed Reptisun tubes...

Unfortunately the three "prototypes" for high UVB (10.0) which I have tested for three companies so far have all had the "phototherapy" phosphor which appears to be causing all these problems. Bad news I'm afraid.

If anyone in Australia is reading this and would like to send me some tubes or lamps (any brand!) for testing, please go ahead. Anytime. I love Australia.


The graph alone doesn't show the legend:

The broken line is the FS lamp. Dashed line is the "tanning" lamp, and solid line is the sun.

Point being... regardless of what wattage and intensity they are... the FS lamp is nothing like the natural sun. It has way more photons in the short wave UVB. Even those DO make more vitamin D, they also make more erythema and eye damage.

If used at all for humans or reptiles... the exposure time should be very short, the distance quite far away, and somehow eyes need protection.

Steve M.

Hi, Tracie.
I share your concern, but I'm afraid we don't know what the actual situation is, without testing the lamps.

Lamps could cause photo-kerato-conjunctivitis even with a normal "sun- like" spectrum, in theory, if placed too close to the reptile. I agree it doesn't seem to have happened before the appearance of this new phosphor, though, which is why I'm suspicious.

I get the impression that because so little is known about UVB and reptiles, and we really are at the very frontier of knowledge, no-one would have predicted this "low wavelength" problem. Certainly I wouldn't have done so a few months ago, when we first realised that the cases weren't one-off accidents of some sort. Nor would I have even begun to guess what it could be, before we had the spectrometer and the UV Index meter.

Also, although it does seem likely that this phosphor is linked to the eye problems, it certainly is far from being proven..

It seems even more likely that the Chinese companies producing the lamps have little or no knowledge of reptiles at all, and they surely won't have tested these lamps in vivaria to see what they are like...I don't know, do they even keep reptiles as pets, with artificial UVB light, in China?

I know it seems "utterly disgusting the lengths these places will go to for a buck" but if you were a small company and were convinced by someone that the lamps were "safe" and "exactly the same" as a big name product, only half the price, I can understand how you would be keen to sell them. What would be important, though, would be to test the lamps fully and evaluate their safety yourself before selling them. Then if there were any doubts at all... but you still sold them ...THAT'S when the "utterly disgusting" label would be REALLY applicable.

As for the Zilla products, I can confirm that I have two lamps being shipped to me right now, and I am also in contact with the Director of Research and Development for the company which own Zilla, he has been very helpful and expressed concern, and will be taking a great interest in the test results, I'm sure.

When I have a report, I'll fill you all in, don't worry. But it will inevitably take a little while.

Just a general reminder to everyone, because there do seem to be some lamps emitting high levels of UVB out there, please read all instructions regarding manufacturer's recommended basking distances whenever setting up new lamps. If there are none provided, ask the company for some. We can't be too sure, with some of these new products, that our old recommendations and past experience are still valid.

All the best,

Hello Frances,

I always love the way you make sure that as a scientist you're very careful in the way you worded your information. Quite frankly I don't have that responsibility. As you know, we've been speaking about this problem really for many years. It developed back with the mystic lamp from Big Apple herp. We even had proved that the spectrum was way out of whack when sent the lamps over to Jukka Lundgreen, When he was involved in part two of his study. The lamps were subjected to spectrometer at a laboratory in Finland. Now even though I believe the equipment you are using now is more precise than the equipment that was used in Finland, and I would have to ask Steve about that to be sure, what you're finding is the same thing we already found out three years ago.

None of this is really new news, is only now becoming public knowledge to those that want to be educated about.

I was quick to say than that when we had animals coming up with photo conjunctivitis Under these Mystic lamps that it was because there was too much ultraviolet in the lower spectrum. I had to phone calls this week from people that are using the new Zilla lamps that within a month had their animals starting to go lethargic, anorexic and keeping their eyes closed.

The problem is that the lamps are being developed by people that are being told that they want high UVB readings. These lamps are not being tested over animals in any way shape or form, neither by the manufacturer themselves, nor by the distributors that are anxious to buy them.

There's not a product I sell that has not been tested over my animals for long periods at times. And then had D3 testing done to make sure that the bulbs themselves were safe.

I've gotten many packages of test products from China, as you know, seems I've sent them over to you for testing. I know the cost of the bulbs that these distributors are paying. And I do have to say that it could be hard to resist the immense profit that can be made over these very inexpensive lamps, but only if he were more concerned about money than about the health and safety of People's animals.

But now to speak in his philosophical way, you can't always just blame the distributors. It seems that the consumers themselves are the ones that are demanding such cheap and inexpensive products, which of course drives the distributors into looking for cheaper and cheaper sources of UV.

Heck, six years ago, hardly anyone on the forums even knew what UV was. I partially feel responsible for creating a generation of UV monsters. Until a Jukka did his study There was very little to go by to the general public when he came to spectral graphs of reptile lighting. I had hardly ever expected to see Specter graphs that reflected phototherapy lighting. That was on the Web to be found if one was looking for it.

It's become a daily routine to hear about animals that are being damaged by the new wave lighting. Can you imagine how many animals really are being harmed that you're not hearing about?

Interestingly, I still feel that creating a good balance of ultraviolet and light is an art not a science.

Best wishes,

Bob Mac

You can read over the full thread here.