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September 28, 2021

Are "white" LED streetlights harmful?

Street lights are an important part of the public infrastructure that ensures the safety and security of people. It illuminates the roads and pathways properly that helps in preventing the risk of mishaps and accidents. Moreover, it keeps thieves, burglars, and criminals at bay and makes public spaces safer at night-time. However, various unnamed studies claim that “white” LED streetlights are harmful to humans as well as to the environment. Is it true? Let's find out.

Problems associated with white LED streetlights

LED technology has taken the global lighting industry by storm. It is loaded with a host of benefits and has proven itself as the best alternative to traditional street lights on almost all fronts. For instance, municipalities and government bodies across the world are in the process of replacing old fluorescent and incandescent street lights with new-age LED-based street lighting solutions. However, the American Medical Association (AMA) suggests two problems with “white” LED street lights.

1.       Glare due to short-wavelength light

 First, a white LED street light with a colour temperature of 4000K or 5000K can lead to discomfort and glare. As per AMA, LED lights with high Kelvin values are concentrated and contain high amounts of short-wavelength blue light. This can cause severe glare that can eventually result in pupillary constriction in the eyes. Blue light tends to scatter more in the human eye than the other colour lights with longer wavelengths and can cause damage to the retina. Moreover, it can hamper clarity of vision which makes driving or commuting unsafe for people.

 2.       Impact on circadian rhythm

The second problem addressed by AMA revolves around the impact of white LED street lights on human circadian rhythm. It suggests that too much night-time exposure to short-wavelength blue light may disrupt the human biological clock and sleep patterns.

 The Solution

While AMA sheds light on the problems associated with the white LED streetlights, it also provides recommendations and solutions. The organisation suggests that white LED streetlights should be dimmed and cooled down. 

Here are the three recommendations made by AMA for making street lighting solutions safer:

1.       Encourage the use of LED streetlights with 3000K or lower colour temperatures. Moreover, it suggests that all the streetlights should be shielded and covered in order to minimize the glare.  

2.       Minimize and control blue-rich environmental lighting by deciding on LED luminaires with the lowest emission of blue light.

3.       Support proper conversion to community-based LED lighting solutions that promote energy efficiency and minimize the use of fossil fuels.

In reality, LED street lights are the best available option to ensure proper and safe illumination on the streets. We just need to figure out the best way to use and implement this technology so that it does no harm to human health and the environment. We at Wipro Lighting are committed to offering top-notch street lighting solutions that are optimized for ensuring safety. Wipro LED street lights suit the urban architectures holistically and deliver a long study performance.      

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