LED street lights draw warning from American Medical Association

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In a report published June of 2016, the American Medical Association warned of health effects resulting from LED street lights.  One of the central concerns was the emission of excessive blue light from the LEDs.

On page 2 of the report, the AMA wrote:

Depending on the design, a large amount blue light is emitted from some LEDs that appear white to the naked eye. The excess blue and green emissions from some LEDs lead to increased light pollution, as these wavelengths scatter more within the eye and have detrimental environmental and glare effects. LED’s light emissions are characterized by their correlated color temperature (CCT) index. The first generation of LED outdoor lighting and units that are still widely being installed are “4000K” LED units. This nomenclature (Kelvin scale) reflects the equivalent color of a heated metal object to that temperature. The LEDs are cool to the touch and the nomenclature has nothing to do with the operating temperature of the LED itself. By comparison, the CCT associated with daylight light levels is equivalent to 6500K, and high pressure sodium lighting (the current standard) has a CCT of 2100K. Twenty-nine percent of the spectrum of 4000K LED lighting is emitted as blue light, which the human eye perceives as a harsh white color. Due to the point- source nature of LED lighting, studies have shown that this intense blue point source leads to discomfort and disability glare.

On page 4 of the report, they continue:

A number of controlled laboratory studies have shown delays in the normal transition to nighttime physiology from evening exposure to tablet computer screens, backlit e-readers, and room light typical of residential settings. These effects are wavelength and intensity dependent, implicating bright, short wavelength (blue) electric light sources as disrupting transition. These effects are not seen with dimmer, longer wavelength light (as from wood fires or low wattage incandescent bulbs). In human studies, a short-term detriment in sleep quality has been observed after exposure to short wavelength light before bedtime. Although data are still emerging, some evidence supports a long-term increase in the risk for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity from chronic sleep disruption or shiftwork and associated with exposure to brighter light sources in the evening or night.

 

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