LED Lights Health Effects – Adverse Reactions, Hazards & Risks?


LED light refers to the light that emits diodes. LED lights have several applications in home and automotive lighting. They are also common in video displays as well as traffic signals. Most people prefer using LED lights due to their ability to store sufficient energy that can last up to three days. Another advantage of these lights is their ability to be recycled, unlike the compact fluorescent lighting tubes.

LED lights emit energy in the form of light when they are switched on. LED is considered as dangerous to human health due to its dangerous contents such as lead and arsenic metals. The American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Science and Public Health released a report recently affirming the harmful effects of led lights to human health.

Every industry is interested in being more efficient, less expensive, and promoting a healthy environment. Electric lights have been in high demand, and the introduction of LED lights has been one of the most outstanding advancements. LED lights are common in most places including homes and industries. Their exceptional design and low costs are part of the reason for their increase in demand.

What Is So Special About LED Lights?

LED lights are comprised of semiconductor diodes that produce energy in the form of light when they are switched on. When they provide enough electricity, the photons are emitted through a process referred to as electroluminescence.

Since their discovery, LED lights have been in existence for over 50 years. The older LED lights used to emit light with low-intensity. However, the current LED lights come in varying intensities across the visible and the invisible light spectrum. The current LED lights on the market give intense brightness using a little amount of electricity.

The majority of the traditional lights have a working time of approximately 5,000 hours. The halogen bulbs have a maximum working period of 6,000 hours. The LED lights are eight times more efficient than the traditional lights in converting electric energy into light. They have an average lifespan of 80,000 hours.

LED lights are in high demand due to many reasons. They have a much lower risk of fire outbreak than other bulbs. They also need to be changed less frequently than traditional bulbs. Currently, their prices in the market have become comparable to other modern options such as compact fluorescent lights.

LED lights also have some health benefits. Recent developments have demonstrated the ability of LED lights to balance the circadian rhythm. Recent advancements have allowed LEDs to mimic natural light. According to research, proper exposure to natural light can provide a steady circadian rhythm.

The flickering effects of fluorescent bulbs have been shown to promote the occurrence of headaches in individuals. People who encounter persistent headaches and migraines are always advised to avoid fluorescent bulbs. LED lights do not flicker and this makes them the best option for individuals with regular headaches and migraines.

LED lighting in the office is considered to increase productivity among the employees. Implementing this lighting system in the offices can help employees to succeed in their work.

LED light is also thought to enhance performance, especially in a learning environment. Research suggests that the installation of this lighting system in a learning environment can increase the performance of students.

LED light can also help manage medical conditions such as stress and anxiety. LED light can help alleviate stress in individuals fond of spending time indoors. Studies have associated the lighting system with reduced stress and anxiety in affected individuals.

Health Risks Of LED Lights

Despite the mentioned benefits associated with LED lights, some dangers may arise from exposure to this type of lighting. The primary health concerns related to it are red LED lights. The red lights are designed with a substance known as aluminum gallium arsenide. The substance is toxic when it is in concentrated amounts.

When a person gets exposed to this material directly, it can cause toxic effects to the body. The side effects that may arise from exposure to aluminum gallium arsenide include kidney failure, respiratory disorders, and reproductive issues. Red LED lights also contain lead metal which is toxic to the body’s organs.

The French Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Health and Safety released a report explaining the potentially harmful effects of LED light to the eye. According to the report, the blue light has a photochemical risk to the eye.

The level of the risks involved depends on the amount of the blue light to which the person has been exposed. The report warns that the blue light can cause cellular oxidative stress to the retina. The most vulnerable population to this effect includes children, pregnant mothers, and workers who are exposed to high-intensity lighting.

Another serious risk associated with LED light originates from glare. The report by the French Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Health and Safety states that when luminance exceeds 10,000 cd/m2, an individual is likely to encounter visual disturbances regardless of the positioning of the lighting unit in the vision field. Other risks that are related to the higher luminance have been raised; however, further research is needed to find out how they occur.

Studies have also revealed that blue LED light can reduce the production of melatonin by the pineal gland in the evening. The regenerative and restorative capacities of the eyes are affected when LED lights are used after sunset.

Less regeneration may cause degeneration of the eye tissues leading to a condition known as age-related macular degeneration. The age-related macular degeneration causes most cases of blindness among the elderly. Health experts explain that when LED light is not properly balanced with natural sunlight, the possibility of damaging the body's biology is increased.

The American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Science and Public Health has also linked LED light to poor sleep. According to their report, the blue-rich white LED street light is more disruptive to the sleep cycle than the conventional street lighting system. Recent surveys have also shown that brighter residential nighttime lighting is linked to poor quality of sleep and impaired daytime functioning. There are also reports that brighter residential nighttime light has a greater incidence of obesity.

White LED lights are made of high concentrations of nickel. Studies have shown that most individuals are allergic to nickel. Besides nickel, white LED also contains copper which has detrimental effects on the environment. Improper disposal of LED lights can cause harmful effects to the environment and its surroundings.

Individuals working at construction sites and waste disposal areas are at risk of chronic exposure to LED lights. Other risk factors include a broken bulb at home or in the office which can cause serious side effects to individuals in the vicinity. It is advisable to use protective gear such as gloves and face masks when cleaning up a broken LED light. The health risks can also be avoided by staying away from the vicinity of a broken LED light to reduce exposure.

Are There Good LED Lights On The Market?

A broad range of LED lights is sold in the market. They come with different features such as cool white and warm white. The cool white produces a high concentration of harmful blue light. The warm white on the other hand emits a warm-appearing light. However, this is considered deceptive because the warmth is as a result of masking the blue with yellow and orange lights in high amounts.

LED lights that are designed with less blue are also available. They are close to the spectral distribution of the incandescent lamps regarding the blue part of the spectrum.

Tips On How To Identify A Healthier LED

One of the ways to buy a healthier LED is by looking at the CRI. The gold standard is the CRI for sunlight which is 100. Incandescent light bulbs and candles have a CRI that is equal to that of sunlight. When purchasing a LED light, look for one that has a CRI of about 97. It is the closest one can ever get to a natural light with a LED.

Besides the CRI, one should also look at the color temperature. There are two types color temperature involved:

  • Physical color temperature – this refers to the physical color of the LED light in degree Kelvin. The temperature applies to candlelight, sunlight, and incandescent light. The physical color temperature implies that the source is as hot to the touch as the physical color temperature produced.
  • Correlated color temperature – the measurement reveals how the light source presents to the human eye.

LED Lights Health Effects Summary

Despite the various health risks that are associated with LED light, it is hard to forget that the older lighting systems had their dangers such as risks of epileptic shock. LED lights have their share of risks.

However, their high efficiency and less environmental effects seem to make these lights more desirable. Individuals are advised to be responsible when it comes to exposure, cleaning up, and handling LED lights.

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