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LED Street Lights - Unsightly & Unhealthy / Blinded-By-The-Light
(At Walnut and 12th Streets: new LED white lights on left, yellow on right)
Both the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Optometric Association (AOA) have stated that LED lights are seriously damaging to public health:
June 14, 2016: AMA Adopts Guidance to Reduce Harm from High Intensity Street Lights https://www.ama-assn.org/ama-adopts-guidance-reduce-harm-high-intensity-street-lights (also see full text here) Note: Health Alert Philly does not agree with AMA's recommended solution, rather we believe that LED lights should be replaced with a safe and healthy alternative.
American Optometric Association, Dec 2014: “Blue light damage to the retina has research support from studies with both acute and chronic exposure.” Report: Light and Eye Damage, by Gregory W. Good, O.D., Ph.D., American Optometric Association, Dec 2014 http://www.aoa.org/Documents/CRG/Blue%20Light%20and%20Eye%20Damage.pdf
LED LIGHTS harmful health effects:
- Cause irreparable damage to eye retina - can lead to blindness
- Suppresses melatonin – causes serious harm to mental & physical health
- Flickers - impacting those with ADHD and can also cause debilitating headaches and migraines
- Includes wireless adapter – which also causes serious harm to mental & physical health
- Contains hazardous components – lead, arsenic, and other potentially dangerous substances
- Creates worse nighttime glare than conventional lighting, particularly for drivers and pedestrians under foggy conditions
- Disrupts many species that need a dark environment
- Effect On Crime – no reliable studies on LED street lights & crime, conversely, logic dictates that suppressed melatonin levels would cause an increase in crime
LEDs PHYSICAL ISSUES:
Irreparable Eye Retina Damage
Disturbs Circadian Rhythms
Heart & Blood Disease
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Sarcoidosis (Inflammatory Disease)
LEDs MENTAL ISSUES:
Major Depressive Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
ACTION: Health Alert Philly strongly recommends suspending the LED street light program and the removal of the LED lights, wireless cell adapters, and surveillance cameras, as they are inherently unhealthy, unsafe, and an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. Furthermore, we recommend reinstalling the former street lights. Lastly, we encourage the residents, businesses, and civic associations of Philadelphia to contact Mayor Kenney and members of City Council and call for public hearings and an investigation into the LED Street Light program and the Smart City program, as well. For the latter program could possibly include an even greater threat to public health and safety, as well as constitute yet another unconstitutional intrusion into our privacy which, deliberately or by accident, can be turned against the public welfare with catastrophic consequences for all. http://www.govtech.com/Security-Privacy-Governance-Concerns-About-Smart-City-Technologies-Grow.html
Please add your voice to ours. Contact your political representatives (City, State, Federal)
James.Kenney@phila.gov (Mayor of Philadelphia)
Mark.Squilla@phila.gov (Chair of Streets Committee on City Council)
Carlton.Williams@phila.gov (Streets Commissioner)
Richard.Montanez@phila.gov (Deputy Streets Commissioner, Lighting & Maintenance)
Stephen.Lorenz@phila.gov (Chief Engineer, Historic Streets)
Jon.Farnham@phila.gov (Executive Director of Philadelphia Historical Commission)
your council member - http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/imgs/map1....
LED/SMART CITIES Program manager: Richard J Montanez, P.E., Traffic & Street Lighting Chief Engineer, City of Philadelphia, Traffic Engineering Division, Street Lighting Division,1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 900 MSB, TEL: 215 686 5515, FAX: 215 686 5067, EMAIL: email@example.com
ACTIVIST ORG: The EMF Safety Network - http://emfsafetynetwork.org/the-perils-of-led-streetlights
More Great Health Info Links:
Jan 29, 2018: The dark side of light: how artificial lighting is harming the natural world https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-00665-7
- Oct 23, 2016: How LED Lighting May Compromise Your Health http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/10/23/near-infrared-led-lighting.aspx
- July 16, 2016: Doctors Issue Warning About LED Streetlights http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/07/16/led-street-lights-warning.aspx
- June 21, 2016: AMA issues warning about LED streetlights http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/21/health/led-streetlights-ama/index.html
- Sep 2, 2015: Blue light has a dark side- Exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs, harmful to your health. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
- Jan 21, 2014: University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/melatonin
- Sep 15, 2012: The Dark Side of LED Lightbulbs http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/led-lightbulb-concerns/
- July 2010: Melatonin and Mental Illness pp. 119-129 By Gregory M. Brown, Daniel P. Cardinali and S. R. Pandi-Perumal http://ebooks.cambridge.org/chapter.jsf?bid=CBO9781139042734&cid=CBO9781139042734A022
Other cities' LED complaints:
March 27, 2017: LED Street Lights Leave the Charm of Rome in Ruins
- Sept 21, 2016: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/some-cities-are-taking-another-look-at-led-lighting-after-ama-warning/2016/09/21/98779568-7c3d-11e6-bd86-b7bbd53d2b5d_story.html
- Video of New York news story on LED street lighting and resident reaction: http://pix11.com/2015/04/27/new-bright-leds-that-replaced-street-lamps-angering-local-residents/
The city of Davis received so many complaints about the LED lights they put the project on hold for a year, then spent $350,000 more money on the project: http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/10/21/davis-will-spend-350000-to-replace-led-lights-after-neighbor-complaints/ Berkeley complaints: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/08/06/berkeley-residents-weigh-in-on-new-led-streetlights/ Houston, we’ve got a problem with LEDS: http://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2016/02/08/136878/city-waiting-for-more-information-on-alternative-led-street-lights-as-some-call-for-change/ Grassroots website about LED streetlight complaints: http://lightsickness.com/actions-you-can-take/
Privacy & Government Surveillance Issues:
New technology provides all-in-one lighting, sound and public safety applications
Full articles below...
Oct. 4, 2016: Video report from the Today Show: http://www.today.com/video/could-new-led-street-lights-be-hazardous-to-your-health-778725443527
”Could new LED street lights be hazardous to your health? Popular new LED street lights are being installed in cities across the country. But now doctors are warning that the new lights could contribute to everything from distracted driving to insomnia and obesity. NBC News correspondent Tom Costello reports for TODAY.”
AMAissues warning about LED streetlights
Updated 2:00 PM ET, Tue June 21, 2016
· The American Medical Association urges communities to minimize health and environmental risks -
· White LEDs are thought to be five times more effective at suppressing melatonin than sodium lamps
The American Medical Association (AMA) has just adopted an official policy statement about street lighting: cool it and dim it. The statement, adopted unanimously at the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago on June 14, comes in response to the rise of new LED street lighting sweeping the country. An AMA committee issued guidelines on how communities can choose LED streetlights to "minimize potential harmful human health and environmental effects."
Municipalities are replacing existing streetlights with efficient and long-lasting LEDs to save money on energy and maintenance. Although the streetlights are delivering these benefits, the AMA's stance reflects how important proper design of new technologies is and the close connection between light and human health.
The AMA's statement recommends that outdoor lighting at night, particularly street lighting, should have a color temperature of no greater than 3000 Kelvin (K). Color temperature (CT) is a measure of the spectral content of light from a source; how much blue, green, yellow and red there is in it. A higher CT rating generally means greater blue content, and the whiter the light appears.
Apparently This Matters: L.A.'s fancy new streetlights A white LED at CT 4000K or 5000K contains a high level of short-wavelength blue light; this has been the choice for a number of cities that have recently retrofitted their street lighting such as Seattle and New York.
Explainer: What is seasonal affective disorder? But in the wake of these installations have been complaints about the harshness of these lights. An extreme example is the city of Davis, California, where the residents demanded a complete replacement of these high color temperature LED street lights.
Can communities have more efficient lighting without causing health and safety problems?
Two problems with LED street lighting
An incandescent bulb has a color temperature of 2400K, which means it contains far less blue and far more yellow and red wavelengths. Before electric light, we burned wood and candles at night; this artificial light has a CT of about 1800K, quite yellow/red and almost no blue. What we have now is very different.
The new "white" LED street lighting which is rapidly being retrofitted in cities throughout the country has two problems, according to the AMA. The first is discomfort and glare. Because LED light is so concentrated and has high blue content, it can cause severe glare, resulting in pupillary constriction in the eyes.
Blue light scatters more in the human eye than the longer wavelengths of yellow and red, and sufficient levels can damage the retina. This can cause problems seeing clearly for safe driving or walking at night.
You can sense this easily if you look directly into one of the control lights on your new washing machine or other appliance: it is very difficult to do because it hurts. Street lighting can have this same effect, especially if its blue content is high and there is not appropriate shielding.
The other issue addressed by the AMA statement is the impact on human circadian rhythmicity.
Full moon may disrupt sleep, study says Color temperature reliably predicts spectral content of light -- that is, how much of each wavelength is present. It's designed specifically for light that comes off the tungsten filament of an incandescent bulb.
New atlas shows extent of light pollution; what does it mean for our health? However, the CT rating does not reliably measure color from fluorescent and LED lights. Another system for measuring light color for these sources is called correlated color temperature (CCT). It adjusts the spectral content of the light source to the color sensitivity of human vision. Using this rating, two different 3000K light sources could have fairly large differences in blue light content.
Therefore, the AMA's recommendation for CCT below 3000K is not quite enough to be sure that blue light is minimized. The actual spectral irradiance of the LED -- the relative amounts of each of the colors produced -- should be considered, as well.
The reason lighting matters
The AMA policy statement is particularly timely because the new World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness just appeared last week, and street lighting is an important component of light pollution. According to the AMA statement, one of the considerations of lighting the night is its impact on human health.
In previous articles for The Conversation, I have described how lighting affects our normal circadian physiology, how this could lead to some serious health consequences and most recently how lighting the night affects sleep.
Should there be warning labels on your light bulbs? In the case of white LED light, it is estimated to be five times more effective at suppressing melatonin at night than the high pressure sodium lamps (given the same light output) which have been the mainstay of street lighting for decades. Melatonin suppression is a marker of circadian disruption, which includes disrupted sleep.
Street lighting and human health The AMA has made three recommendations in its new policy statement:
First, the AMA supports a "proper conversion to community based Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting, which reduces energy consumption and decreases the use of fossil fuels."
Second, the AMA "encourage[s] minimizing and controlling blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare."
Third, the AMA "encourage[s] the use of 3000K or lower lighting for outdoor installations such as roadways. All LED lighting should be properly shielded to minimize glare and detrimental human and environmental effects, and consideration should be given to utilize the ability of LED lighting to be dimmed for off-peak time periods."
There is almost never a completely satisfactory solution to a complex problem. We must have lighting at night, not only in our homes and businesses, but also outdoors on our streets. The need for energy efficiency is serious, but so too is minimizing human risk from bad lighting, both due to glare and to circadian disruption. LED technology can optimize both when properly designed.
(Lynn Landes: We do not agree with AMA's recommendations below and believe that it would be safer and healthier for Philadelphia to keep the high pressure sodium lamps.)
Richard G. "Bugs" Stevens is a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Connecticut.
Copyright 2016 The Conversation. Some rights reserved.
American Optometric Association: “IRREPARABLE” EYE RETINA DAMAGE from LEDs
American Optometric Association, Dec 2014: “Blue light damage to the retina has research support from studies with both acute and chronic exposure.” Report: Light and Eye Damage, by Gregory W. Good, O.D., Ph.D., American Optometric Association, Dec 2014 http://www.aoa.org/Documents/CRG/Blue%20Light%20and%20Eye%20Damage.pdf
Harvard University - Eyecare Research Chair: Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos, Professor at the Department of Optometry and Vision, Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The relation between macular degeneration-retinal damage and exposure to light has been known since the middle of the 20th century. Nevertheless, in the last 5 years, the advent of new technology LED along with its massive use in screens of electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops…) has made phototoxicity the main field of our research. http://rcc.harvard.edu/eyecare-research)
May 14, 2013, Daily Mail: “Spanish research, Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos, of Complutense University in Madrid, has shown that blue LED light can irreparably damage the cells in the eye's retina. (This is not the first time energy-saving bulbs have been criticized - fluorescent bulbs emit dangerous UV light.”http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2324325/Do-environmentally-friendly-LED-lights-cause-BLINDNESS.html
July 2010: Melatonin and Mental Illness pp. 119-129 By Gregory M. Brown, Daniel P. Cardinali and S. R. Pandi-Perumal http://ebooks.cambridge.org/chapter.jsf?bid=CBO9781139042734&cid=CBO9781139042734A022
ABSTRACT: There have been major advances in knowledge of the role of melatonin in body function and especially in mental illness. Originally isolated as a skin-lightening factor from the pineal gland, it is now known that at physiologic levels it has a key role in the regulation of circadian rhythms. At supraphysiologic levels it has been shown to have neuroprotective as well as cardioprotective effects. In this chapter the authors describe the regulation of melatonin and its relationship to circadian rhythm regulation. They then describe the interaction of melatonin with circadian rhythms and the sleep–wake cycle in major depressive disorder, bipolar depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). An antidepressant has been introduced that represents a new class of antidepressant in that it also acts as an agonist at melatonin receptors and improves several sleep parameters. In seasonal affective disorder bright-light therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment: a treatment that is based on correcting a circadian rhythm misalignment as defined by examining the melatonin rhythm. Sleep–wake alterations in Alzheimer's disease are accompanied by major alterations in melatonin levels and in melatonin receptors in several brain regions. These findings raise the possibility that the melatonin decrease may be important not only for the rhythm disruption but might also have a role in the neurodegeneration itself. In autism spectrum disorders a decrease in melatonin levels along with the final enzyme in the melatonin synthetic pathway has been reported.
SUPPRESSES MELATONIN - CAUSES SERIOUS HARM TO MENTAL & PHYSICAL HEALTH
Sept 2, 2015: BLUE LIGHT HAS A DARK SIDEHarvard Health Letter http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
Light at night is bad for your health, and exposure to blue light emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs may be especially so.
Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.
But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.
Daily rhythms influenced by light
Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.
The health risks of night time light
Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.
A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.
Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
The power of the blues
While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).
In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.
If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.
The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a fair amount of light in the blue spectrum. Richard Hansler, a light researcher at John Carroll University in Cleveland, notes that ordinary incandescent lights also produce some blue light, although less than most fluorescent lightbulbs.
What you can do
· Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
· Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
· If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses.
· Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
May 1, 2012 Updated: September 2, 2015
Sept 12, 2011: Science Daily: Exposure to 'white' light LEDs appears to suppress body's production of melatonin more than certain other lights, research suggests https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912092554.htm
"White" light bulbs that emit light at shorter wavelengths are greater suppressors of the body's production of melatonin than bulbs emitting orange-yellow light, a new international study has revealed. Melatonin is a compound that adjusts our biological clock and is known for its anti-oxidant and anti-cancerous properties.
The study investigated the influence of different types of bulbs on "light pollution" and the suppression of melatonin, with the researchers recommending several steps that should be taken to balance the need to save energy and protecting public health.
"Just as there are regulations and standards for 'classic' pollutants, there should also be regulations and rules for pollution stemming from artificial light at night," says Prof. Abraham Haim, head of the Center for Interdisciplinary Chronobiological Research at the University of Haifa and the Israeli partner in the research.
The study, by Fabio Falchi, Pierantonio Cinzano, Christopher D. Elvidge, David M. Keith and Abraham Haim, was recently published in the Journal of Environmental Management.
The fact that "white" artificial light (which is actually blue light on the spectrum, emitted at wavelengths of between 440-500 nanometers) suppresses the production of melatonin in the brain's pineal gland is already known. Also known is the fact that suppressing the production of melatonin, which is responsible, among other things, for the regulation of our biological clock, causes behavior disruptions and health problems.
In this study, conducted by astronomers, physicists and biologists from ISTIL- Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute in Italy, the National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, and the University of Haifa, researchers for the first time examined the differences in melatonin suppression in a various types of light bulbs, primarily those used for outdoor illumination, such as streetlights, road lighting, mall lighting and the like.
In the first, analytical part of the study, the researchers, relying on various data, calculated the wavelength and energy output of bulbs that are generally used for outdoor lighting. Next, they compared that information with existing research regarding melatonin suppression to determine the melatonin suppression level of each bulb type.
Taking into account the necessity for artificial lighting in cities, as well as the importance of energy-saving bulbs, the research team took as a reference point the level of melatonin suppression by a high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulb, a bulb that gives off orange-yellow light and is often used for street and road lighting, and compared the data from the other bulbs to that one.
From this comparison it emerged that the metal halide bulb, which gives off a white light and is used for stadium lighting, among other uses, suppresses melatonin at a rate more than 3 times greater than the HPS bulb, while the light-emitting diode (LED) bulb, which also gives off a white light, suppresses melatonin at a rate more than 5 times higher than the HPS bulb.
"The current migration from the now widely used sodium lamps to white lamps will increase melatonin suppression in humans and animals," the researchers say.
The researchers make some concrete suggestions that could alter the situation without throwing our world into total darkness, but first and foremost, they assert that it is necessary to understand that artificial light creates "light pollution" that ought to be addressed in the realms of regulation and legislation.
Their first suggestion of course, is to limit the use of "white" light to those instances where it is absolutely necessary. Another suggestion is to adjust lampposts so that their light is not directed beyond the horizon, which would significantly reduce light pollution. They also advise against "over-lighting," using only the amount of light needed for a task, and, of course, to simply turn off lighting when not in use -- "Just like we all turn off the light when we leave the room. This is the first and primary way to save energy," the researchers say.
"Most Italian regions have legislations to lower the impact of light pollution, but they still lack a regulation on the spectrum emitted by lamps. Unless legislation is updated soon, with the current trend toward sources as white LEDs, which emit a huge amount of blue light, we will enter a period of elevated negative effects of light at night on human health and environment. Lamp manufacturers cannot claim that they don't know about the consequences of artificial light at night," says Dr. Fabio Falchi of ISTIL.
"As a first step in Israel, for example, the Standards Institution of Israel should obligate bulb importers to state clearly on their packaging what wavelengths are produced by each bulb. If wavelength indeed influences melatonin production, this is information that needs to be brought to the public's attention, so consumers can decide whether to buy this lighting or not," Prof. Haim says.
Journal Reference: Fabio Falchi, Pierantonio Cinzano, Christopher D. Elvidge, David M. Keith, Abraham Haim. Limiting the impact of light pollution on human health, environment and stellar visibility. Journal of Environmental Management, 2011; 92 (10): 2714 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2011.06.029
The EMF Safety Network - http://emfsafetynetwork.org/the-perils-of-led-streetlights/
2015: THE PERILS OF LED STREETLIGHTS
There is a major push all over the country to install LED streetlights based on assumptions of saving energy and money. In places where the LEDs have been installed there are many complaints. On February 16 Sebastopol will consider whether or not to allow PG&E to install the LED streetlights. PG&E owns the streetlights and requires cities to opt-in to the changeout.
PG&E is currently installing LED streetlights in Santa Rosa, and we took a team to investigate, measure and photograph there. What we found is, unlike the warm yellow streetlights, the LED’s are very white, with cold blue tones, and painfully bright.
Mary Carvalho who lives in Santa Rosa writes, “Has anyone noticed lately that the night sky is lit up like a full moon every night?” Paul Marantz, a lighting designer said about the yellow streetlights, “there was a warmth about them that’s missing from the new lights. And because of the way the LEDs are designed, it’s a much more directed light, with more glare.”
When the environment is saturated with blue rich light it causes melatonin reduction which can affect sleep. Harvard Medical School reported blue light has a dark side. “Light at night is bad for your health, and exposure to blue light emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs may be especially so.”
Bob Parks, executive director of the International Dark-Sky Association states, “Now, people can certainly close their blinds and block-out that rich blue-white light. The problem is that every other species on the planet can’t do that, so you have an impact on everything else. And not just animals — we are talking plants, trees, right down to one-cell organisms.”- Earth Island Journal
The Department of Energy (DOE) and IEEE reported there are serious health risks from LEDs if inexpensive drivers are used. DOE writes, “Why is flicker bad? For one thing, in addition to being annoying and distracting, it can cause eyestrain, blurred vision, and impairment of performance on sight-related tasks. And in those who are flicker-sensitive, it can cause debilitating headaches and migraines — 10% of the population is estimated to suffer from migraines, and that’s only one of the groups prone to flicker sensitivity. According to the IEEE recommended practice, flicker has been reported to contribute to autistic behaviors, and can be a trigger for epileptic seizures.… Some of these problems might occur even when the flicker isn’t detectable by the eye.”
The EMF Safety Network sent a list of questions to PG&E about their LED streetlights. We await their answers. We can trust PG&E will cut costs and we can’t be certain they will tell the public the truth. We don’t know whether or not PG&E will be using the streetlights for wireless transmissions, as has been done in Los Angeles and Florida. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had a presentation on their website that touted the benefits of “intelligent” wireless streetlights.
We don’t know if PG&E is installing these, but we do know the rapid increase of microwave technologies deployed on our homes and in our neighborhoods, largely without informed consent, threatens privacy, public health, children, wildlife and nature.
The other risk is whether or not the LED streetlights add unintentional radiation to the power lines, creating “dirty electricity” like PG&E smart meters do. Samuel Milham, MD and David Stetzer, Electrical Engineer wrote a peer reviewed published paper in 2013. They wrote, “Dirty electricity, also called electrical pollution, is high-frequency voltage transients riding along the 50 or 60 Hz electricity provided by the electric utilities… has been associated with cancer, diabetes and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in humans.
Some people claim brighter streetlights will help reduce crime. However, Earth Island Journal reported “Public safety was a big motivator behind the Oakland conversion project, and it may seem intuitive that brighter lights improve safety. However, some studies suggest that though brighter streets make people feel safer, they have no impact on actual crime levels.”
In 2015, PG&E’s claims of LED cost and energy savings were merely assumptions. In the CPUC 2015 Uncertain List they stated, “market move to LED technology requires verification.” As yet PG&E has offered no proof. In addition the city claimed the streetlight conversion would be free, however PG&E intends to recover streetlight costs through customers rate increases. So we all pay for the LED streetlights.
Why should perfectly good streetlights be scrapped for a risky technology whose benefits are questionable? A study published in late 2010 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that LEDs contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other potentially dangerous substances. While it is possible that the LED’s save energy, it’s not worth the cost to public and environmental health.
In September 2015, the Sebastopol city council had the PG&E streetlight conversion on their consent calendar. Due to complaints, they took the issue off consent and put it on the regular agenda. At that meeting, Rich Emig, Public Works superintendent, gave a report acknowledging the LED health risks. Public comments included one woman who said when she was a child she had seizures from light flicker. See the Sebastopol City Council’s video which starts at 1:40:00
Considering the city acknowledged the serious pubic health risks, why are they bringing it back to the council, and why have they not notified the public of this issue that will affect each and everyone of us?
More information at http://emfsafetynetwork.org/the-perils-of-led-streetlights/ and http://lightsickness.com/
HAZARDOUS COMPONENTS - broken or disposal, health & safety measures in order
Sep 15, 2012: The Dark Side of LED Lightbulbs
Indeed, LED (light emitting diode) lighting does seem to be the wave of the future right now, given the mercury content and light quality issues with the current king-of-the-hill of green bulbs, the compact fluorescent (CFL). LEDs use significantly less energy than even CFLs, and do not contain mercury. And they are becoming economically competitive with CFLs at the point of purchase while yielding superior quality lighting and energy bill savings down the line.
But LEDs do have a dark side. A study published in late 2010 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that LEDs contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other potentially dangerous substances. LEDs are touted as the next generation of lighting,” says Oladele Ogunseitan, one of the researchers behind the study and chair of the University of California (UC)-Irvine’s Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention. “But as we try to find better products that do not deplete energy resources or contribute to global warming, we have to be vigilant [about] toxicity hazards….”
Ogunseitan and other UC-Irvine researchers tested several types of LEDs, including those used as Christmas lights, traffic lights, car headlights and brake lights. What did they find? Some of the worst offenders were low-intensity red LEDs, which were found to contain up to eight times the amount of lead, a known neurotoxin, allowed by California state law and which, according to researchers, “exhibit significant cancer and noncancer potentials due to the high content of arsenic and lead.” Meanwhile, white LEDs contain the least lead, but still harbor large amounts of nickel, another heavy metal that causes allergic reactions in as many as one in five of us upon exposure. And the copper found in some LEDs can pose an environmental threat if it accumulates in rivers and lakes where it can poison aquatic life.
Ogunseitan adds that while breaking open a single LED and breathing in its fumes wouldn’t likely cause cancer, our bodies hardly need more toxic substances floating around, as the combined effects could be a disease trigger. If any LEDs break at home, Ogunseitan recommends sweeping them up while wearing gloves and a mask, and disposing of the debris — and even the broom — as hazardous waste. Furthermore, crews dispatched to clean up car crashes or broken traffic lights (LEDs are used extensively for automotive and traffic lighting) should wear protective clothing and handle material as hazardous waste. LEDs are currently not considered toxic by law and can be disposed of in regular landfills.
According to Ogunseitan, LED makers could easily reduce the concentrations of heavy metals in their products or even redesign them with truly safer materials, especially if state or federal regulators required them to do so. “Every day we don’t have a law that says you cannot replace an unsafe product with another unsafe product, we’re putting people’s lives at risk,” he concludes. “And it’s a preventable risk.”
Of course, we all need some kind of lighting in our lives and, despite their flaws, LEDs may still be the best choice regarding light quality, energy use and environmental footprint. That said, researchers are busy at work on even newer lighting technologies that could render even today’s green choices obsolete.
NOTE: Although the article below discusses the benefits of melatonin supplements (which we do not endorse), it is a compilation of the wide array of health problems that are caused or worsened by suppressed melatonin levels. Lynn Landes
January 21, 2014 University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/melatonin
MELATONIN - Overview
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body's circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour "clock" that plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. When it is dark, your body produces more melatonin. When it is light, the production of melatonin drops. Being exposed to bright lights in the evening, or too little light during the day, can disrupt the body's normal melatonin cycles. For example, jet lag, shift work, and poor vision can disrupt melatonin cycles.
Melatonin also helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. It helps determine when a woman starts to menstruate, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when a woman stops menstruating (menopause). Preliminary research suggests low levels of melatonin help identify women at risk of a pregnancy complication called pre-eclampsia.
Some researchers also believe that melatonin levels may be related to aging. For example, young children have the highest levels of nighttime melatonin. Researchers believe these levels drop as we age. Some people think lower levels of melatonin may explain why some older adults have sleep problems and tend to go to bed and wake up earlier than when they were younger. However, newer research calls this theory into question.
Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects. Preliminary evidence suggests that it may help strengthen the immune system. If you are considering using melatonin supplements, talk to your doctor first.
Studies suggest that melatonin supplements may help people with disrupted circadian rhythms (such as people with jet lag or those who work the night shift), and those with low melatonin levels (such as some seniors and people with schizophrenia) to sleep better. A review of the scientific literature suggests that melatonin supplements may help prevent jet lag, particularly in people who cross 5 or more time zones.
A few clinical studies suggest that, when taken for short periods of time (days to weeks), melatonin is more effective than a placebo in reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, increasing the number of sleeping hours, and boosting daytime alertness. It’s not clear how well melatonin works, however. Some studies suggest that it only reduces the amount of time to fall asleep by a few minutes.
Several human studies have measured the effects of melatonin supplements on sleep in healthy people. A wide range of doses has been used, often taken by mouth 30 to 60 minutes prior to sleep time. Results have been mixed. Some evidence suggests that melatonin may work best for people over 55 who have insomnia. One study of 334 people aged 55 and older found that sustained-release melatonin seemed to help people fall asleep faster, sleep better, be more alert in the morning, and improve quality of life in people with primary insomnia.
Several studies show melatonin has cardioprotective properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Research also suggests that melatonin may help lower blood pressure levels and improve cholesterol profiles. More research is needed.
Melatonin supplements may improve sleep problems associated with menopause. Other studies suggest it may help restore quality of life and prevent bone loss among perimenopausal women. However, it does not appear to relieve other symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes. Peri- or postmenopausal women who use melatonin supplements should do so only for a short period of time since long-term effects are not known.
Some research suggests that melatonin may help elderly people with insomnia who are tapering off or stopping benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), or lorazepam (Ativan). Taking controlled-release melatonin improved sleep quality in those stopping benzodiazepine use. More research is needed. You should never combine melatonin with sedative medications unless you are under the strict supervision of a health care provider.
Several studies suggest that low melatonin levels may be associated with breast cancer risk. For example, women with breast cancer tend to have lower levels of melatonin than those without the disease. Laboratory experiments have found that low levels of melatonin stimulate the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, while adding melatonin to these cells slows their growth. Preliminary evidence also suggests that melatonin may strengthen the effects of some chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer. In a study that included a small number of women with breast cancer, melatonin (given 7 days before beginning chemotherapy) prevented the lowering of platelets in the blood. This is a common complication of chemotherapy that can lead to bleeding.
In another small study of women who were taking tamoxifen for breast cancer but seeing no improvement, adding melatonin caused tumors to modestly shrink in more than 28% of the women. Women with breast cancer should ask their doctors before taking melatonin.
Studies show that men with prostate cancer have lower melatonin levels than men without the disease. In test tube studies, melatonin blocks the growth of prostate cancer cells. In one small-scale study, melatonin -- combined with conventional medical treatment -- improved survival rates in 9 out of 14 men with metastatic prostate cancer. Interestingly, since meditation may cause melatonin levels to rise it appears to be a valuable addition to the treatment of prostate cancer. More research is needed before doctors can make recommendations in this area. Men with prostate cancer should talk to their doctor before taking medication.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism
Some evidence suggests that melatonin may help promote sleep in children with ADHD or autism, although it does not seem to improve the behavioral symptoms of ADHD or autism.
A randomized, placebo-controlled study found that people with fibromyalgia experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms when they took a melatonin supplement either alone or in conjunction with fluoxetine (Prozac).
- Sunburn -- Preliminary studies suggest that gels, lotions, or ointments containing melatonin may protect against sunburn and other skin damage. Studies examined using melatonin alone or combined with topical vitamin E prior to UV light exposure from the sun.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) -- Preliminary research suggests that people with IBS who take melatonin reduce some symptoms, such as abdominal pain. Results are mixed as to whether melatonin may help improve other symptoms, such as bloating and frequency of bowel movements.
- Epilepsy -- Some studies suggest melatonin may reduce the frequency and duration of seizures in children with epilepsy, but other studies suggest melatonin may increase the frequency of seizures. Do not take melatonin for epilepsy, or give it to a child, without talking to your doctor first.
- Sarcoidosis -- Some researchers suggest that melatonin may be effective in the treatment of pulmonary sarcoidosis. Talk to your doctor.
- Assisted Reproduction -- Interestingly, preliminary studies suggest melatonin supplementation in the eggs of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome could improve egg maturation and pregnancy rates.
- Other Uses -- Preliminary evidence suggests that melatonin may play a role in pain modulation and digestive function. More research is needed.