Health

Medical Professionals Suggest Dimming LED Lights

| by Karin Sun
The Sixth Street bridge in Los Angeles after new LED street lights were installed.The Sixth Street bridge in Los Angeles after new LED street lights were installed.

A statement recently adopted by the American Medical Association (AMA) recommends that LED lighting be dimmed for public health and environmental reasons.

The statement, which was adopted unanimously at the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago on June 14, suggests that LED lights used in outdoor lighting, including street lights, should have a color temperature of no more than 3000 Kelvin, CNN reported. Color temperature is the measure of how much colored light is contained in a light source, which usually appears white to the naked eye. Higher color temperature ratings indicate more blue light, which increases the light's brightness.

The AMA's recommendation was made due to concerns over the potential negative effects of overly bright LED lighting on public health and the environment. According to a press release on the medical organization's website, LED lights that emit a large amount of blue light decrease drivers' visual acuity and create road hazards. They also adversely affect human circadian sleep rhythms by suppressing melatonin at night, which could lead to loss of sleep, dissatisfaction with the quality of sleep, extreme sleepiness, diminished daytime functioning, and obesity.

Overly bright LED lights may also cause long-term damage to the retina, CNN reported.

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The AMA also cited the detrimental environmental effects of blue light as a reason for the need to dim outdoor LED lighting. According to the press release, excessive outdoor lighting may create light pollution and disrupt bird, insect, turtle and fish species that need darkness to thrive.

Over recent years, many U.S. municipalities have replaced conventional street lights with more energy-efficient LED lighting in order to save money on energy and maintenance. Several major cities, including New York and Seattle, are currently using street lights with color temperature ratings of 4000 to 5000 Kelvin, according to CNN.

However, many city residents have complained about the harshness and glare of the lights. After high color temperature LED lighting was installed in Davis, California, residents asked that the city replace the lights because they were too bright.

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

Sources: CNN, AMA Press Release / Photo Credit: LA Bureau of Street Lighting via CNN

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