Look up, look down, look all around - all those LED street lights that many cities are installing may be doing more than just lighting up the night for residents. The American Medical Association recently released a warning that these higher intensity lights may carry serious health risks for those exposed like cardiovascular conditions and even cancer.
The Washington Post reports about the new warning from the AMA concerning LED lights and health risks that may affect residents who live around them. LED lights are known to emit a harmful blue light to those exposed that can impair our natural sleep rhythm and possibly lead to some serious health problems down the line.
As of now, about 13 percent of our roadway lighting is LED with plans for more to come. Cities site the reason for changing over from those yellow high-pressure sodium lights to LED lights has to do with the added efficiency (LED’s last anywhere from 15 to 20 years before being changed whereas the old lights only last 2 - 5 years) and improved vision for drivers on the road.
Though the AMA is not calling for the removal of LED lights from roadways, they are urging cities to take it down a notch or two with less powerful LED lights. New York City has already responded to residents who were annoyed by the brightness of the new lights and changed out the bulbs to a lower level of intensity that has been approved by the AMA as being safe.
But other cities, like Seattle, don’t buy that the high intensity lights are harmful to our health. A spokesman for Seattle City Lights, Scott Thomsen, says that he believes the LED we are exposed to from computers and phones is more problematic. But if cities do heed the warnings, there are other options in LED that may prove to be a better approach to lighting issues. Lower kelvin rating LED’s that use about the same amount of energy are now available and emit a softer amber hue and less of that ‘unsafe’ blue light.
Has your city changed over to LED lights? What do you think of them?
Do you think the warnings from the AMA should be considered when installing these new lights on our roadways?