Shining a Light on Better Health

Brighter isn’t necessarily better. In fact – the American Medical Association recently issued a warning suggesting that bright LED street lights might not be good for us.  And Phoenix is one of a handful of cities across the nation that is looking at improving health by dimming its street lights.


In response to recent guidance by the American Medical Association against the use of powerful LED lights, cities such as Phoenix; Lake Worth, Florida; and 25 towns in Connecticut are now opting for street lamps with lower color temperatures, meaning less blue light emission.

Lights with high color temperatures release more blue light, which cause more glare and discomfort to the eyes, according to the association.

According to CNN, bright blue lights could lead to additional health concerns. “The American Medical Association warning raised several health concerns that may result from high-color temperature LED lights. Over time, glare from the lights may cause eye damage and distorted vision, while high levels of blue light in LEDs may stunt circadian rhythms. Sleep issues could bring a host of other problems, including depression and obesity, according to the association.”
Some cities are revising streetlight-replacement plans in response to residents’ protests. In Phoenix, opposition to plans for 90,000 bluish LED streetlights led the city to request that bidders propose a wider range of colors for the LEDs. In an online survey conducted by the city, citizens preferred the lights with the more yellow hue.
Phoenix officials say they will decide on the color of the lamps this fall. While the citizen input will be taken into account, says Monica Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the city’s Street Transportation Department, the city will also consider feasibility, sustainability and dollar savings.
Mark Hartman, Phoenix’s chief sustainability officer, told the Washington Post the city might elect to go “with a mix of the intense lights for major intersections and ballpark areas that need very bright light and a softer light for residential areas. He said the city would consider the health arguments, although he, too, mentioned the glow from computers and televisions. “Nobody says don’t watch television or use your computer after 9 p.m. because of blue lights,” he said.”
Share your thoughts on whether you believe the potential health risks are real or if Phoenix should join cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York and opt for the brighter, more energy efficient LED lights. Working together to sort out the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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