PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – They save money and energy, but are LED light bulbs in and around your home putting your health at risk?
Jolanta Benal says the glare from new LED street lamps on her block is so intense she put up blackout curtains.
It’s a growing annoyance as more and more towns and municipalities switch from orange sodium lights to longer lasting blue LEDs.
But, the glare may actually be the least of our concerns.
“There has not been consideration on the human health impacts, and that’s what I strongly object to,” Professor of Medicine Dr. Richard Stevens said.
Professor Stevens has spent more than 30 years studying the health effects of artificial light, including LEDs.
“There is no question. Too bright light, particularly blue short wavelength light in the evening, has potent effects on our physiology,” he said.
In particular, he said study after study shows it severely suppresses the production of melatonin, which is a much-needed hormone.
“Increasing the risk of diabetes, obesity, depression,” Stevens said.
It could also increase the risk for certain cancers.
A Harvard study found a greater risk of breast cancer in women who live in neighborhoods that have higher levels of outdoor lighting during the night.
“I think we don’t know the individual environment,” Dr. Raimonda Goldman, an oncologist, said.
Dr. Goldman said while the study raises some good questions, it does not make a definitive link as with other known risk factors, including smoking or too much alcohol consumption.
All experts agree more research is needed. In the meantime Dr. Goldman suggests do as Benal does.
“Close the blinds, make sure you get enough sleep,” Dr. Goldman said.
The American Medical Association is now encouraging communities to minimize blue lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible.
If you use LED lightbulbs in your home, experts recommend dimming them in the evening.