In June of 2016, the American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement that some LED lights are harmful when used as a street light. The official AMA statement on the effects of LED street lighting has caused quite a stir in the lighting industry. There have been several responses from lighting organizations debunking the AMA report, but as with any statement much of it is an opinion. So in an effort to clear this up, we’ll look at this statement from both sides.
AMA Statement Summary below in bold and a summary of multiple lighting organization’s defense in italic:
“Some LED lights are harmful when used as a street light”
There are so many varieties of LED lights that the word some throws off the statement from the start.
“High-intensity LED lighting emit a large amount of blue light that appears white to the naked eye and creates worse nighttime glare than conventional lighting. Discomfort and disability from intense blue-rich LED lighting can decrease visual acuity and safety, resulting in concerns and creating a road hazard.”
Some LED lights do produce blue light, but that color can be controlled. Glare is a function of the light fixture performance and placement, not necessarily the light source itself.
“Blue-rich streetlights operate at a wavelength that most adversely suppresses melatonin during the night. Recent large surveys found that brighter residential nighttime lighting is associated with reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness and impaired daytime functioning and obesity.”
For more validity to this statement, a study should be conducted rather than a survey. It is true that white light can affect sleep, but you need to be exposed directly to that. If the light is constantly shining on you it will affect your sleep, but there are a lot of measures that can be taken to avoid that (curtains, bed placement, on/off switch, etc…)
“Excessive outdoor lighting disrupts many species that need a dark environment (disorients some birds, insects, turtles and fish species)”
This is a general statement with no statistics to back it. This is saying that any excessive lighting will disrupt species, not LED specific lighting.
Here are links to a couple of articles countering AMA’s statement:
As you can see, there is no clear answer at this point on this subject, but it is worth monitoring. As with any new technology, there are a lot of unknowns that only time will be able to tell what the results/answers will be.The important fact to take out of this that both parties agree with is to pay careful consideration when designing your outdoor lighting system and to make sure you select quality product that provides the right light where you need it.