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Projecting truth on the health effects of LED

28/05/2014

If you are considering switching to LEDs you have surely googled a bit about LEDs and their pluses and minuses. Surprisingly, the moment you start your search you will drown in articles about all the negative effects blue light in LEDs has. I am saying “surprisingly” as those articles are ages old – some of the newest are from two years ago.

Two years might not sound as a lot but in terms of science development they are ages. As today new light has been shed on all the claims about harmful effects of LED lights which usually ended with a sentence explaining that more research is needed. Today this research is a fact and here are the conclusions announced by the US Department of Energy (DOE):

Myth N1: Blue light in LEDs affects the production of the hormone melatonin

Blue light affects indeed melatonin production but blue light is not a LED-patent. Blue light is a natural part of the light spectrum and is found in all light sources, including the sun and incandescent light bulbs. Blue light contributes to the whiteness of lighting and is thus radiated by ALL bright light sources. Furthermore, whereas the traditional light bulbs cannot be adjusted and tend to produce a standard color of light, LEDs can be controlled both by choosing the appropriate for us Kelvin temperature of the light and by using the color/dimming options LEDs provide.

Another important fact here is that, as DOE points out, exposure to blue light at daytime is not harmful. Quite on the contrary – it helps us concentrate and makes us more productive. DOE reports that the harmful effect of blue light at night is mostly in connection to distorting our internal rhythm. However, they caution that different daily routines contribute to changes in that internal rhythm which also means that different people react differently to blue light exposure at night. Therefore, whereas the positives of blue light exposure at daytime are a scientific certainty, the negatives in connection to blue light exposure at night are still pretty vague.

Myth N2: Blue light in LEDs causes blindness

You can be fully reassured that there is nothing behind this myth. The myth is based on the assumption that the brightness and the strength of the blue light in LEDs cause retina degeneration. However, this is not an assumption directly connected to LED light bulbs at home. Instead, the focus here is on LED screens, as your TV, computer or mobile phone and the problem is that you stare INTO the light instead of using light to see as our nature commands. Some go as far as saying that LEDs are dangerous because they are too bright and cause damage if you look directly into them. The question is though: why would you do that? After all, would we stare at the sun?

The truth is that LEDs are not more harmful than any other lighting solution and do not pose a danger when used with moderation. According to DOE, this simply means that we have to read our body signals: if the light is too strong, we squint or cover our eyes – natural protective mechanisms but also a signal that the light has to be adjusted. Luckily, with LEDs you can do that easily, thus protect yourself.

Myth N3: LEDs affect negatively some medical conditions

It is true that some people struggling with some eye conditions, light sensitivity or a similar health condition may experience worsening of sympthoms in spaces with LED illumination. However, it has to be pointed out that this does not have anything to do with LEDs characteristics. The problem is that LEDs provide more light than for example incandescent bulbs and a light that is much closer to natural light – the source of those people’s problems.

Therefore, there is no reason for healthy individuals to not feel safe about choosing LEDs. Besides the fact that LEDs do not contribute to worsening of one’s health without a preexisting condition it is worth to point out that LEDs are the safest lighting option when considering health hazards as infrared and UV radiation. LEDs are indeed the lighting option emitting almost none infrared and UV radiation – quite to the contrary of CLFs and incandescent bulbs.

Myth N4: Besides the negatives, LEDs do not have positive effects on health

Today we have learned a lot about light and both visual and non-visual light stimulation, reports DOE. We have found out that the blue light in LEDs can be used therapeutically on infants suffering from certain conditions. Furthermore, LED light is recognized as an important part of treating a variety of conditions, Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression among others.

LEDs are also a part of mood therapies, work environments helping productivity and other non-visual light therapies helping relaxation and offering a relief for anxiety patients.

DOE points out that our light perceptivity changes from daytime to nighttime and is different for different people. Therefore it is important to work on creating a rhythm in our light use with switching from one type of light to another when the moment requires it. As popularly known, this is one of the best features of LEDs – they can be controlled so precisely to fit the needs of every person in every situation benefitting their health and overall condition.

Myths about the future

While the LED-opponents would like to see LEDs go down in flame and the world come back to incandescent bulbs, this is not really a position based on scientific facts. The claims that human health is being sacrificed for environment’s sake do not hold true. Besides the well known facts about radiation from incandescent bulbs we have to remember that eyes are endangered by the weak light they produce. Such facts are however well hidden in articles about the evil LEDs. Therefore all claims about new technology hurting our health have to be reviewed very critically before we decide which part we will take.

DOE on the other hand has already spoken: LEDs are the light of the future. They recognize that a lot has to be learned before we are fully able to enjoy all the benefits of light therapy and proper lighting at home, but LEDs are still way ahead of competition in terms of health benefits.

Until the prescription for the optimal home or workplace lighting is found, the DOE advices us to do everything in proportion: too much light is just as bad as too little light, bright light late at night is as bad as badly lit rooms during the day, and no, staring into a lit light bulb is never healthy.

 

Read from the source: http://www.ssl.energy.gov/factsheets.html

 

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