The Harmful Hidden Effects of Artificial Lighting

By Jeff Brain | June 29, 2017

Modern artificial lighting methods such as energy efficient LEDs are often touted for the range
Top100Badge.pngof benefits they provide. 
Much of their marketing however, ignores the hidden negative effects that these systems can carry with them. 

Read our blog to discover the issues that people selling you lighting may not be 100% upfront about.

Create Eye Strain

Many artificial lighting methods can contribute to repetitive eye strain. Both LED and CFL lamps flicker intermittently. This flickering forces the human eye to try and rapidly adjust to changes in light intensity. The result is the exhaustion of the eye, creating repetitive stress injuries and potentially leading to stress induced migraines down the road. Not only that, doctors have linked artificial lighting to the worldwide rise in myopia (or shortsightedness). In some countries such as China, where the education system is more intensive, keeping students indoors for long hours, number of myopia cases has increased from 20-30% to 80% in students middle school age or older.

Disrupt Sleep Schedules

Overexposure to artificial light can drastically affect the quality and length of sleep seen by building occupants, by harming melatonin production. Melatonin is the neurotransmitter which regulates our day-night sleep cycle. Studies show that overexposure to high-blue spectrum light, such as that produced by fluorescent bulbs and some LED lamps, hampers the body’s production of melatonin. This destabilizes people's’ circadian rhythms and is a contributing factor in the development of insomnia, as well as seasonal affective disorder.

Negatively Affect Health

Alongside the issues mentioned above, studies are also finding that artificial light is drastically less beneficial to human health than natural light. It does not stimulate the production and maintenance of vitamins C and D, which help to support a healthy immune system. Additionally, while moderate exposure to natural light can aid in the prevention of rickets, prediabetes, multiple sclerosis, and more, working under artificial lighting can actually worsen some of these conditions. These health risks cause those working in naturally lit conditions to require 6.5% less sick days per year than their counterparts under artificial lamps.

Lose Intensity Over Time

This particular hidden issue is one specific to LED lamps. While these lamps do not burn out like other bulbs, they experience slow, procedural dimming over time. Despite the 50,000 hour lifespan which they tout, on average, this loss of intensity can cause them to produce only 80% of their initial output after just 8,000 hours. Often times this means that an LED lighting system becomes significantly less efficient than advertised before even reaching half of its total life span. Which is especially significant when you realize many lighting professionals recommend replacing lights once they have reached 70% of their initial output.

To learn more about the disadvantages and benefits of a wealth of lighting solutions, download our free eBook A Comprehensive Guide to Sustainable Lighting.

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