CHICAGO — On June 14, physicians at the American Medical Association’s annual meeting issued guidelines on how communities can choose LED streetlights to “minimize potential harmful human health and environmental effects.”
Converting conventional street light to energy efficient LED lighting leads to cost and energy savings, as well as a lower reliance on fossil-based fuels. But some LED lights can pose health risks.
The American Medical Association recommends that outdoor lighting at night, particularly street lighting, should have a color temperature of no greater than 3000 Kelvin.
According to the American Medical Association, LED street lighting has two problems.
LED streetlights that appear white to the naked eye emit a large amount of blue wavelength light, which is estimated to be five times more effective at suppressing melatonin at night than the high pressure sodium lamps that have been the mainstay of street lighting for decades. Melatonin suppression is a marker of circadian disruption, which includes disrupted sleep.
Blue light also scatters more in the human eye than the longer wavelengths of yellow and red. Sufficient levels of blue light can damage the retina. And LED light is concentrated, which can cause severe glare, resulting in pupillary constriction in the eyes.
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