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LED Street Lights May Be Damaging To Your Health

Jun 27, 2016 05:54 AM EDT
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Health authorities had issued warnings about LED street lighting.

Yellow street lights are being replaced by white LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights to save energy. But according to the American Medical Association (AMA), LEDs could be damaging to our health, affecting sleep and vision.

In an official statement, which was adopted unanimously at the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago earlier this month, the AMA addressed issues about the new LED street lighting in the country.

The group adopted new guidelines, which include the following:

  • Proper conversion to community based LED lighting, which reduces energy consumption and decreases the use of fossil fuels.
  • Minimize and control blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light.
  • Use 3000K or lower lighting for outdoor installations
  • All LED lighting should be properly shielded
  • LED lighting should be dimmed during off-peak time periods

"Despite the energy efficiency benefits, some LED lights are harmful when used as street lighting," AMA board member Maya Babu said in the AMA press release.

Medical experts said that white LEDs may be emitting too much blue light, and this can disrupt sleep by suppressing melatonin and interfering with the body's circadian rhythm - the body's natural 24-hour cycle. LED is also estimated to suppress melatonin five times more than conventional street lights.

The AMA also stressed the potential of LED street lights to cause glare and recommended to reduce the blue wavelengths in the lights.

According to the AMA, outdoor lighting at night, particularly street lights, should have a color temperature (CT) of not more than 3000 Kelvin (K).

A white LEDs at CT 4000K or 5000K have been chosen to be installed in street lights in cities such as Seattle and New York.

However, after these installations, many complained about the harshness of the LEDs. In Davis, California, residents demanded a complete replacement of their LED street lights, CNN reported.

A recent report from the World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness said that street lighting is a major contributor of light pollution.

Moreover, bright lighting is known to have a negative effect on wildlife, disturb the migratory patterns of birds and some aquatic animals nesting on shore.

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