American Medical Association: “LED street lights may cause road hazards and obesity”

The American Medical Association (AMA) has issued a statement warning of the adverse effects of the LED bulbs that are replacing conventional street lights in many cities around the world.

According to the AMA, high-intensity LED lighting emits blue light that appears white to the naked eye and creates more intense night time glare than conventional lighting. This, it says, can "decrease visual acuity and safety and could result in road hazards".

In addition to its impact on drivers, blue-rich LED streetlights operate at a wavelength that suppresses a hormone called melatonin that regulates wakefulness and sleepiness in humans.

The AMA say "recent large surveys found that brighter residential night time lighting is associated with reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and obesity".

The detrimental effects of high-intensity LED lighting are not limited to humans. The association says it may  disorient birds, insects, turtles and fish.

The AMA encourages communities to choose the lowest emission of blue light possible and accompany that with shielding to minimise glare.

Image: Orange sodium lights alongside white multi-LED lights (Wikimedia Commons/Roger Kidd)

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