Readers Write: Opposition to LED lights not supported by science

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In the past few weeks there had been discussions and issues raised by residents of the Village involving the proposed installation of the 800 LED street lights.

I would like to reply to each of the complaints and/or issues brought up by residents at prior meetings.

  1. Daylight-like lighting and blue-white lights can have an impact on circadian rhythm and health in addition to decreasing melatonin.

Reply: While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so much more to suppress melatonin and shift circadian rhythms.

It should be noted that the proposed LED lighting supplied by Philips will be set at 3,000K for most of the installations except for the main streets which will be set at 4,000K as required.

Philips has installed over 57,000 installations to date without one reported medical incident or negative medical effect.

Phosphors are added to the diode to produce a mix of different wave lengths, which result in producing white light. It should be noted that the lights that are going to be installed will have phosphors yielding white light and essentially eliminating all blue light.

Installations using the LED lighting have been utilized in classrooms, offices, industrial buildings, office buildings, main thoroughfares, side streets, hospitals, private residences, public buildings, and medical offices throughout the United States.

To date, there has not been one recorded or documented medical complaint regarding any of those installations.

  1. The issue of breast cancer

Questions:

  1. How many of you dye your hair?
  2. How many of you watch TV past 9 p.m.?
  3. How many of you use mobile phones?
  4. How many of you have fluorescent lights in your homes?

Not one person attending any of the prior meetings were told to stop watching TV, stop using their computer and stop using mobile phones because more blue light is emitted by those products than the proposed LED lighting system.

Research performed at Harvard found that reading electronic readers, iPads, computers, or just watching TV before bed can disturb the body’s circadian rhythms.

Decreased melatonin production can make it more difficult to fall asleep and wake up.

  1. Daily rhythms are influenced by light.

Reply: 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 rhythms of early birds fall short of 24 hours.

As reported by Dr. Charles Czeisler of the Harvard Medical School in 1981, daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.

It should be noted that, even a dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythms and melatonin.

A mere low level of brightness which is exceeded by most table lamps and about the twice that of a night light also has an effect.

Any light at night is part of the reason so many people do not get enough sleep. It should also be noted that researchers have linked short sleep cycles to increased risk for depression as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

  1. Lights cannot be dimmed.

Reply: With reference to that issue, the proposed lighting system will be set at a color temperature of 3,000K.

Lights along the main cross streets may be set as required, at 4,000K.

All of the installations will be set at safe settings that have been tested out in thousands of other installations. It should be noted that the Board members have had, at their disposal for review, many of these other installations as a reference.

It should also be noted that the digital controls that accompany installations have settings that allow the lights to be dimmed at any time.

  1. The Harvard study and the Harvard Health Letters:

Reply: The Harvard study did not include the incorporation of phosphors eliminating and/or substantially reducing the amount of blue light.

  1. The Board has not consulted the rest of the community about its plan to install LED street lights throughout the Village:

Reply: That is not the protocol that is used or followed by town boards, city councils, large corporations, small companies, as well as organizations that create safety standards such as OSHA, NIOSH, ANSI, ISO, and the ASTM.

It should be noted that I consult for OSHA, was a paid consultant for the research arm of OSHA-NIOSH, was a United States representative for 10 years creating safety standards around the world for ISO and have been a member of over 35 committees for the ASTM from 1964 to the present time that have been involved in the creation of hundreds of safety standards used throughout the world.

A copy of my background can be found at www.scientificadvisory.com.

There is always a select group of qualified people who are assigned to create the basis for a project and then perform a due diligence before the results are presented to the proper audience.

The village board followed that protocol with reference to the installation of 800 LED street lights throughout the village.

In spite of the technically accepted protocol the board had taken, many residents in the Village expressed unwarranted fears without a proper technical or scientifically acceptable foundation in many of the people attending the meetings and subsequently reading the letters to the editor and write-ups by reporters in the local Great Neck papers.

It should also be noted that in attendance was a doctor from another town expressing his opinion which did not meet the basic requirements which involving the technical specifications of all of the parts that went into the installation of the streets lights.

  1. Has the Board performed their due diligence with reference to the conversion of 800 street lights incorporating LEDs?:

Reply: It is understood that the Board has had five meetings with the residents discussing LED lights. They reviewed a number of studies of other installations, and invited the public to hear presentations from the Board’s expert consultants.

From a technical standpoint, in the opinion of the undersigned, they more than met their burden in performing due diligence on the issues involving the installation and their choice of installing 800 LED street lights.

  1. What are the safety issues and benefits resulting from the installation of the LED street lights? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?:
  2. For older people, which includes the undersigned, brighter light is more important because we tend to see less at night.
  3. There is an enhancement in the enjoyment of public spaces.
  4. The city of Seattle, Washington has installed 41,000 LED lights and reported that there was a sharp different between the brightness between the old sodium lights and the new LEDs. They also reported that even at 4,100K, the blue light is much lower than most computer screens, laptops and television screens.
  5. LEDs are up to 50 percent more energy efficient than the yellow-orange high pressure sodium lights they typically replace.
  6. Unlike sodium lights, LEDs spread illumination evenly.
  7. LED lighting exceeds the ability of any other light source in putting the light where you want it, the amount you want and when you want it.
  8. LEDs allow individuals to distinguish colors at night.
  9. The digital nature of the proposed LEDs offer unparalleled advantages in light distribution and cutoff, plus dimmability combined with timers.
  10. No warm up is necessary. Light comes on instantly when turned on.
  11. Keep drivers alert and pedestrians safer.
  12. Seattle and all of the other cities that have installed LED lighting have found the energy costs lower-as much as 80 percent.
  13. The light from the new LED fixtures will be comparable to moonlight and will provide excellent visual acuity to drivers.
  14. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) consume 75 percent less energy than incandescent lighting.
  15. LEDs last 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting and about 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescent lighting.
  16. Light output remains constant overtime, only decreasing towards the end of the rated lifetime which is at least 35,000 hours or 12 years based on use of 8 hours per day.
  17. Brightness is equal to or greater than existing lighting technologies, incandescent or fluorescent, and the light is well distributed over the area lighted by the fixture.
  18. LEDs provide excellent color quality. The shade of white light appears clear and consistent over time.
  19. By enabling people to distinguish colors at night, the police in many cities have reported that they reported much better witness descriptions because of the LED lighting.
  20. LED lighting is not part of the problem, it will be the solution.

It is my opinion, based upon my extensive experience in safety engineering and design and with scientific certainty, that the board has done more than enough with reference to the studies they have reviewed, the experts and consultant companies they have been involved in, and the number of meetings they have had with members of the village.

They have completed their due diligence with reference to their decision and the people living in the Village should accept their decision without further objections.

It is my opinion that we should start addressing all other important issues that affect us throughout the Village with a more positive approach than a contentious one.

Lastly, we should all treat each other with respect and positive energy and avoid negative energy.

J. Abraham

Great Neck

1 COMMENT

  1. These are the fallacious talking points of every city that has put in overly high glare street lights and experienced the backlash that inevitably comes. Like the author, I will take them one by one:

    1. The blue light in street lights has not been documented to be harmful.

    The reason the AMA is now discouraging using anything bluer than 3000K is that it has been found to be harmful in study after study. The melatonin cancer connection has been observed not only statistically but directly in the lab where certain cancer cell growth including breast, prostate, and colorectal is slowed markedly in the presence of melatonin. Statistical studies show shift workers who sleep during the day having twice the incidence of these cancers and blind women living in cities having dramatically lower incidence, but only if they are totally blind…seeing no light, not just legally blind. Even if you do not believe the decades of medical studies supporting the claim that even a small amount of light with blue content coming into windows suppresses melatonin and reduces sleep quality, Kevin Fitzmaurice, head of lighting at Georgia Power said their glare complaints were reduced 70 to 80% just by switching from 4000K to 3000K. Shorter drivers cannot shut out a view of the LEDs from street lights. Repeatedly being hit by glare is taxing and a driving hazard.

    2. Computer screens, cell phones, and interior lights are far worse, therefore it is perfectly fine for cities to harm you because you are doing it to yourself anyway.

    This is true, except that unlike city planners, computer and cell phone makers and interior light bulb manufacturers are doing something about it. For several years, there have been apps and options to automatically dramatically reduce blue backlight during night time hours. I just bought some Philips SceneSwitch bulbs that change color with the flip of an ordinary switch. I can use 2700K warm white or 5000K daylight for daytime tasks and switch to a dimmed 2200K before bedtime, no specialty dimmer switch needed. Even the space station is revamping its lighting to help astronauts sleep better. And finally, all these devices have an “off” switch at night. Street lights do not.

    3. Cities have found no harm with the use of 4000K.

    Not only have multiple cities found harm, but they are doing something about it by not using 4000K in future installations. Here in Houston, I have heard about people abandoning their front bedrooms in order to sleep, pulling over due to migraine headaches, losing the use of their outdoor decks. The Las Vegas City Council said they experienced buyers’ remorse two years after installing 4000K streetlights. Their mayor almost hit a pedestrian which had never happened before! Phoenix, Honolulu, Montreal, Chicago, Edmonton, Alberta. and Los Angeles all abandoned 4000K plans. According to The Gothamist, New York City will use warmer lighting in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx although residents in Queens and Brooklyn are stuck with harsher lighting. It is good that 3000K is being used in residential areas, but 2700K is even better dimmed to appropriate levels during sleep hours. The newest PC Amber LEDs are still less efficient, but they have almost no blue and still have much better color rendition than amber high pressure sodium bulbs.

    4. Not mentioned is harm to animals and plants who do not have computers but are definitely adversely affected by over lighting. Night time pollinators reduce their activity dramatically. Migrating birds are drawn to the lighting and circle until they are exhausted. Trees are disrupted by having daylight like light pointed at them 24/7.

    5. LEDs have great benefits including reducing carbon footprint dramatically.

    This is true, but doing it better doubles down on the benefits of LED street lights. When you reduce glare through warmer color and better shielding, you can also reduce wattage even further because the eye can see all the light and darker areas are also easier to see. Los Angeles reduced its wattage 20 to 30% when they abandoned 4000K and went to only 3000K and 2700K. SEEING IS BELIEVING. Tucson’s dimmable warm LED installation will save that city 80% in energy.

    See it here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJL-WPwjMQM

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