On June 14, the American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement recommending that public LED lighting be altered for the sake of public and environmental health.
The AMA’s recommendations, voted on at an annual meeting held in Chicago, included making LED lighting cooler and dimmer.
White LED lights have rapidly spread across the United States, with cities retrofitting street lighting on the basis of LED lighting’s economic benefits and longer lifetimes.
However, the AMA pointed out that LED lights have a high blue content, which causes severe glare and can damage retinas, making it difficult for pedestrians or drivers to see clearly.
The AMA also said that LED lighting negatively affects the human circadian rhythmicity, which helps residents regulate their own sleep schedules.
“It is estimated that white LED lamps have five times greater impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps,” the AMA’s statement said. “Recent large surveys found that brighter residential nighttime lighting is associated with reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and obesity.”
AMA Board Member Dr. Maya Babu released a quote in the press release of the AMA statement addressing the concern over LEDs.
“Despite the energy efficiency benefits, some LED lights are harmful when used as street lighting,” Babu said. “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 AMA encourages communities to minimize and control blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare,” the statement said.
“The AMA recommends an intensity threshold for optimal LED lighting that minimizes blue-rich light. The AMA also recommends all LED lighting should be properly shielded to minimize glare and detrimental human health and environmental effects, and consideration should be given to utilize the ability of LED lighting to be dimmed for off-peak time periods.”
The statement came just before NASA released a similar statement of their own on light issues. On June 30, NASA posted an updated World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness, drawing awareness to the global impact of light pollution, which is aggravated by exceptionally bright LED lighting.