Readers Write: LED critics fails to make reasonable case

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On Friday, Feb. 16, Karen Rubin, columnist for the Great Neck News, published an article which assessed the wisdom of the Great Neck Village’s decision to install LED street lights in place of expensive to operate, obsolete sodium vapor lights.

I thought Karen did an excellent job in exposing the many areas of disagreement such as adequacy of information provided to the public, weather the agreement to install was sufficiently transparent, the possible dangers of the blue-light content of the lights, and other issues linked to the electronics of the installation.

In my view, I believe Karen’s review was fair and analytically sound and I recommend the column to everyone. Karen concluded that the project is worth the village’s decision to go ahead and I agree completely.

It did not take long for opposition objections to erupt. On Friday Feb. 16, the Great Neck News printed a column by Amy Glass titled “Setting the Record Straight.” (Amy Glass was a copy editor for the American Institute of Physics and worked as a consultant in statistics and computer technology.)

This article heavily attacked Rubin, but fell far short in the most important issue she raised. Is there any scientific evidence that LED lights pose a health risk?

In an earlier article, Ms.Glass quoted two older studies that suggested LED lights could do damage, but the exposure has to be chronic, acute, daylong, lifetime exposure.

Hardly what residents will experience in Great Neck.

In a more recent study from Harvard, the investigators followed 109,672 nurses over 15 years. Using satellite data to determine light exposure where they lived, they found that the only outstanding subgroups for women’s disease were smokers, former smokers and night-shift workers.

Thus it seems the scientific data Ms. Glass frequently refers to is pretty weak, if not nonexistent.

It is noteworthy that Ms. Glass never mentions the benefits of LED streetlights in terms of cost, efficiency and not the least of all safety.

Leon Korobow

Great Neck

2 COMMENTS

  1. This letter requires a rebuttal. Mr. Korobow is not more informed than the American Medical Association on the harm of blue light at night. In fact, there have been thousands of studies for the last few decades pointing to the adverse health effects of even a small amount of the light from the blue part of the spectrum which suppresses melatonin being used at night. We DO need it during the daytime to regulate our circadian rhythms but it is harmful at night, not only for humans but animals and plants as we all evolved under the naturally warm light at night from sunsets to firelight. The absence of blue light signals our bodies to sleep by promoting the natural production of melatonin. Melatonin also has been shown both statistically and in the lab to slow the growth of a number of hormone based cancers including breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. In the study cited, night shift workers have twice the incidence of breast cancer. What Mr. Korobow does not mention is that the color of newer overly blue component LED street lights is turning all of us into day sleepers, even those of us who sleep at night.

    Even if you are skeptical of the health effects, the increased glare can be seen by anyone. The head of lighting at Georgia Power said their glare complaints went down by 80% when they moved to a warmer white LED street light and that was while using more than the recommended amount of light. Anyone who has seen the new bluer white headlights compared to older halogen headlights has seen the difference.

    This is a 20 year decision. Please listen to the people who are educated on this issue. If you want to see what lighting done right looks like, check out this video of Tucson’s LED street lights as well as private business lighting which is soft and even with greatly reduced glare while using even less light: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJL-WPwjMQM

  2. This is completely untrue. A simple internet search will pull up many articles (Harvard, the AMA, etc.) speaking to the harmful effects on all living things from whopping 4000K (even 3000K) LED Streetlights. Enjoy your lawsuits, Great Neck. You should just use that money now to switch amber LED’s now…or you can give millions to your residents and be forced to switch them out later.
    https://theislandnow.com/opinions-100/led-opposition-not-supported-scientific-facts/

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