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If LEDs Are Bad for Our Health, What Should Cities Do Now?

A report from the American Medical Association says LED lights are bad for our health, inspiring some cities to re-evaluate the technology.
September 26, 2016, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Cities all over the country are adding LED lights to streets and roadways all over the country, seeking energy efficiency and reduced maintenance requirements. A new report, however, raises alarms about the health impacts of the lights. Michael Ollove reports:

The American Medical Association issued a warning in June that high-intensity LED streetlights — such as those in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and elsewhere — emit unseen blue light that can disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

According to Ollove, nearly 13 percent of roadway lighting now use LED lights, with many more plans planning to switch to the technology in the near future, so the AMA's report applies to a huge swath of the country.

And that's not the only concern. "The AMA also cautioned that those light-emitting-diode lights can impair nighttime driving vision," adds Ollove.

The good news is that the AMA does approve of lower-intensity version of the bulbs. New York City, for example, has switched to a lower-intensity version of LED lights in efforts to retrofit its streetlights. Ollove details the efforts of cities like Phoenix and Lake Worth, Florida to find a solution that still installs new lights, but with the AMA's concerns in mind. Other cities have been far more dismissive of the report's findings.

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Published on Sunday, September 25, 2016 in The Washington Post
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