6 Harmful Effects You Should Know About Blue-Rich Outdoor LEDs

By Torrin Greathouse | August 16, 2016

While LEDs are one of the top lighting solutions on the market, the blue-rich light produced by high-intensity lamps can actually be fairly harmful. So much so that the American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted new community standards for preventing the harmful effects of high-intensity LED street lighting.

 Below are a few of the effects that can be avoided by following AMA guidelines for using lamps which generate less blue-rich light.

Disrupts Natural Life

Before even getting into the negative effects blue-rich light can have on humans, it is important to note how it disrupts other natural life. The AMA specifically notes that intense outdoor light can disrupt many animals that need a dark environment to function. It can also disorient wildlife such as birds, bats, and insects, which navigate using the light of the stars and moon.

Nighttime Glare

High-intensity LEDs also create more significant glare than conventional bulbs. The harsh contrast between their bright blue spectrum light and the darkness surrounding them causes visual discomfort, decreasing visual acuity and creating a road hazard.

Repetitive Eye Strain

LED lamps are also known to repetitively flicker and, while this flickering ranges from clearly noticeable to near imperceptible, this can be detrimental to the vision of people exposed to it. As their eyes attempt to adjust to the rapid changes in lighting, this lighting will create repetitive eye strain, even contributing to the development of stress migraines.

Contributes to Macular Degeneration

Artificial lighting has already been linked to the development of visual health conditions such as myopia, however research shows there is also a strong link between blue-spectrum LEDs and macular degeneration. Human eyes are more susceptible to the absorption of blue-spectrum light, particularly when their pupils are dilated to let in more light, as they would be when driving at night. This poses a danger to visual health, because in certain wavelengths blue light has been implicated in the development of age-related macular degeneration.

Harms Sleep Cycles

A major issue that blue-rich LEDs have been criticized for is their effect on human circadian rhythms. Overexposure to blue light decreases the body’s production of melatonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining our sleep cycle. Likewise, as the body recieves less sunlight the body’s production of vitamin D drops, the reduced levels of these two neurotransmitters contributing to the development of both insomnia and seasonal affective disorder.

Linked to Diabetes & Cancer

According to the Harvard Health Letter, nighttime exposure to blue-rich light is strongly linked to several kinds of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. While scientists are not yet entirely sure why the light affects these conditions, they believe that low melatonin and leptin (a neurotransmitter controlling hunger) production may be to blame.

While these are all potential harmful effects of blue-rich LEDs it is important to remember that well-designed broad spectrum LED lamps can be used to illuminate roads and other outdoor areas while minimizing many of these issues.

To learn more about the various ways light can be used to improve health and safety in an industrial setting, download our eBook A Buyer's Guide to Evaluating Industrial Lighting Products.

(Photo: Theen Moy, CC.)
Download A Buyer's Guide to Evaluating Industrial Lighting Products

Subscribe for More Updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.