The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has issued a damning report on the safety of over-bright LED lighting.
The Agency confirms that the toxicity of blue light on the retina can lead to a decline in sight and increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). ANSES also warns of risks to the young, stressing that screens including computers, smartphones and tablets are important sources of blue light and that children and adolescents, whose eyes do not fully filter blue light, are particularly sensitive to blue light toxicity.
The report shows that even a very small exposure to light rich in blue in the evening or at night, disrupts our body clocks (circadian rhythm) and therefore sleep. It also has concerns about the effects of changes in the circadian rhythm on the foetus in pregnancy.
It also says that a high proportion of LED lamps have significant flicker and that some groups of people such as children, adolescents and light sensitive people could be more vulnerable to this and suffer headaches, visual fatigue and migraines.
LightAware is a UK charity dedicated to raising awareness about the effects of artificial lighting on health and wellbeing, and the social exclusion of light-sensitive people who cannot tolerate some of the new forms of lighting.
LightAware Trustee Dr John Lincoln, says that because of the risks associated with sleep disturbance and other health issues, the roll out of more LED street lighting should be delayed.
“We need to ‘Stop, look, listen and think’ before installing any more LED street lighting on our roads. Many towns and cities in the UK have had street lights installed which are far too bright and already causing headache and other health problems.. This report shows that we simply don’t yet know enough about the potential negative impact of LEDs on eyesight and health. LED lights could cause significant damage to children and older people, as well as presenting safety risks for road users. We urgently need more research into this issue.”
“Nothing is more precious than our eyes. LED street lighting is said to cost less in pounds and pence but how high is the price we might be paying for older people’s and children’s eyesight?”
The report is available at https://www.anses.fr/en/node/
Lightaware is a charity based in Scotland (OSCR number SC046160). For more information on LightAware see https://lightaware.org/