LED Streetlights Carry Hidden Risks, AMA Warns
According to new policy guidance issued this week by the American Medical Association (AMA), safe LED lighting options should be used in communities to prevent glare, retina damage, and other harmful effects to humans and the environment.
The AMA held its annual meeting in Chicago last week, and one of the topics discussed was LED lighting and the potential health risks for communities. In a unanimous vote, the AMA adopted new guidance for communities on selecting LED lighting, focusing on dimmer and cooler lighting options.
The organization warns that recent community conversions to light emitting diodes (LED) may have “improper adverse consequences.”
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Most people know LED lighting as energy efficient, offering cost reductions and energy savings as well as a lower reliance on fossil-based fuels. So far, about 10 % of existing U.S. street lighting has been converted to LED technology with efforts to accelerate the conversion.
However, the AMA warns LED lights emit large amounts of blue light, which appears white to the naked eye, but may can cause severe nighttime glare, more so than conventional lighting. This can create discomfort and disability, causing pupil constriction, decreasing visual acuity and safety, damaging the retina and causing more road hazards. the organization warns.
LED lights also operate at wavelengths that suppresses melatonin production during the night. Researchers estimate that white LED lamps have five times greater negative impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps.
Research indicates brighter residential nighttime lighting is associated with reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and obesity.
“Despite the energy efficiency benefits, some LED lights are harmful when used as street lighting,” said AMA Board Member. Dr Maya A. Babu. “The new AMA guidance encourages proper attention to optimal design and engineering features when converting to LED lighting that minimize detrimental health and environmental effects.”
The organization also said LED lighting affects more than humans by disrupting species that need dark environment. LED lights often disorient some bird, insect, turtle and fish species. As a result the national parks adopted optimal lighting designs and practices that minimize the effects of light pollution on the environment.
The AMA is recommending LED lights have a color temperature of no greater than 3000 Kelvin (K), which is a measure of the spectral content of light from a source and indicates how much blue, green, yellow and red it contains.
A higher CT rating means more blue content and a whiter light. White LED light has a CT of 4000K or 5000K, which is a high level of short-wavelength blue light. In comparison, incandescent bulbs have a color temperature of 2400K, which gives off less blue light, where as burning wood and candles has a CT of about 1800K, nearly no blue light.
Most major cities that have retrofitted to LED lighting, including Seattle and New York, have chosen color temperatures in the 4000K to 5000K range.
The AMA policy encourages communities to minimize and control blue-rich lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare and also recommends an intensity threshold for optimal LED lighting.
The organization also recommends all LED lighting be properly shielded to minimize glare and “detrimental human health and environmental effects.” Dimming for off-peak hours should also be considered where possible.
“The guidance adopted today by grassroots physicians who comprise the AMA’s policy-making body strengthens the AMA’s policy stand against light pollution and public awareness of the adverse health and environmental effects of pervasive nighttime lighting,” according to the AMA policy statement.
MieshaApril 27, 2022 at 12:04 pm
This is so real I have not been able to function in my apartment since they've been put up I also felt the onset of the onset of my 2nd 2nd diagnosis of coronavirus come from the feeling of the street light and then escalate into sickness I am being reevaluated for my breast cancer that's possibly there hopefully not. And I'm only 40 years oldI have not been able to keep a job or get anywhere on t[Show More]This is so real I have not been able to function in my apartment since they've been put up I also felt the onset of the onset of my 2nd 2nd diagnosis of coronavirus come from the feeling of the street light and then escalate into sickness I am being reevaluated for my breast cancer that's possibly there hopefully not. And I'm only 40 years oldI have not been able to keep a job or get anywhere on time. I am so unmotivated and so stuck I can't even put a whole spot together to get up go into the bathroom and use it it's way too hardTo even put a thought together to say get up go to the bathroom and then wash your hands and come back.
ericDecember 7, 2016 at 6:23 pm
I wrote in earlier about this: The 6-month-old boy who was taken to a hospital in critical condition after he, his mother and a 3-year old boy were struck by a vehicle in Waimanalo has died, according to the baby’s aunt. The mother is grieving and the 3-year-old boy is fighting for his life, said Genevieve Kalahiki during a phone interview from Las Vegas. “We just pray over the doctors and the n[Show More]I wrote in earlier about this: The 6-month-old boy who was taken to a hospital in critical condition after he, his mother and a 3-year old boy were struck by a vehicle in Waimanalo has died, according to the baby’s aunt. The mother is grieving and the 3-year-old boy is fighting for his life, said Genevieve Kalahiki during a phone interview from Las Vegas. “We just pray over the doctors and the nurses to try to do their best.” Police arrested Annie Akau, 26, of Waimanalo last night in connection with the hit-and-run accident involving the trio. Akau was arrested at her home Monday at 11:30 p.m. on suspicion of negligent injury, operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, driving without a license, endangering the welfare of a minor and other offenses. At about 6:46 p.m., police said the woman was traveling westbound on Kalanianaole Highway in a white 1997 Chevy S-10 pickup truck with a 38-year-old man when she struck the family who was crossing the roadway in a marked crosswalk near Oluolu Street. The truck then sideswiped a silver 2010 Honda Elantra driven by a 36-year-old Kailua man who had stopped on the eastbound lane to allow the family to cross. The truck then stopped and Akau fled the scene, leaving the truck behind. Police also arrested the 38-year-old man for hindering prosecution. About five hours later, officers located Akau at her home. Police said speed and alcohol are factors. The 24-year-old woman and 3-year-old boy were transported to Castle Medical Center and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, respectively, in serious condition. Police said the 6-month-old boy was transported to Castle Medical Center in “extremely critical condition.” Emergency Medical Services reported both the 6-month-old and 3-year-old were treated for head injuries. A baby stroller remained partially beneath the front of the truck while police investigated. “I heard the screeching tires,” said Lynn Mattson, 64, who lives behind the 7-Eleven. She said the infant “was still stuck in the stroller in front of the truck. … The 3-year-old was lying on the corner in front of the crosswalk.” Mattson said the family just had dinner at the father’s mother’s home. The mother was pushing the stroller with the baby and the father was walking right behind them. When she arrived, the father was yelling and the mother was screaming, Mattson said. She accompanied the father and got the baby out of the stroller. She held the baby because the father was so distraught. “He was just a little thing,” she said. “All he was doing was gasping and vomiting.” “People just need to slow down,” she said. She recalls at least two other accidents in the area, one fatal. Kalahiki said the area where her sister and her two children were hit is dark and doesn’t have any street lights and no stop light at the crosswalk where the family was struck. She said she hopes the state Department of Transportation will install lights in the area. “This is just ridiculous,” she said. “The Department of Transportation needs to something.” “I just don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” Kalihiki said. Kalahiki said they were on their way to 7-Eleven to get ice cream for the children when the family was struck by the pickup truck. Another woman said the new LED street lights make it difficult for drivers to see and believes that may have contributed to the crash and others. She said the community has complained to the Department of Transportation.
ericDecember 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm
With the AMA position on disability glare from blue rich white light sources coupled with IES lighting recommendations based on older lighting systems with very little blue light, is there a case for pedestrian conflict in intersections where the driver is essentially blinded by the light?
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