Carefully Lighting the Way with LED Street Lights

As cities move toward replacing street lights with more energy-efficient LEDs, decisions about the type of LED lights selected should be taken into consideration, doctors say.

LED lights street lightsThe American Medical Association adopted a community guidance report at its annual meeting in June to help communities select lights that will have the least amount of human and environmental effects.

According to a news release on the AMA website, high-intensity LED lighting emits a large amount of blue light that creates glare and creates a road hazard. In addition to decreasing visual sharpness, the blue-rich LED streetlights suppress melatonin during the night and impact circadian rhythms. The impact is felt in animal species, as well.

“Brighter residential nighttime lighting is associated with reduced sleep time, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, nighttime awakenings, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and obesity,” the report says. “White LED street lighting patterns also could contribute to the risk of chronic disease in the populations of cities in which they have been installed.”

The AMA recommends “3,000K or lower lighting for outdoor installations such as roadways” and that municipalities shield their lights, and consider dimming them in off-peak periods.

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