LED myths and benefits

LED lighting myths had another weary airing this week with a press story worrying people about “health” issues.

The Daily Mail article has one benefit, among the “here be dragons” text, and that is the pressing need for councils and indeed any company or organisation to choose carefully, with best advice, the most appropriate LED lighting, whether in the street or inside.

In the same way that you can buy any electronics device that is not fit for purpose, LED lighting comes in many shapes and sizes with a wide range of design and manufacturing quality. Only by working with an experienced, knowledgeable LED supplier/partner will you be sure of getting the right solution for the right environment.

We should be clear in our view of the imputed health risks of LEDs – in everyday settings there are no dangers. Every emerging technology attracts a range of emotions from exuberance to fear, which hook themselves onto products and can cause doubts, as well as overblown faith.

In this case, the fears expressed help to give local councils a fierce kicking and maybe rightly point out that the LEDs installed are not best for the task, but the health points are based on scant research data that really does not stand up to close scrutiny.

LED lighting

Let’s take the story’s concern that LEDs can damage our eyes and might even cause blindness. We’ll hand over to Mike Krames, Chief Technology Officer at LED lighting manufacturer Soraa. In a recent issue of Electronics Components News, he examined a Spanish scientific paper “LEDs can be damaging to retinas”.

He found that the research involved exposing eye cells to light intensity of 5 mW per square centimetre for 12 hours.

Mike puts that into perspective for us in his ECN article: “For a typical white LED spectrum, this intensity level corresponds to staring directly into a 100-Watt-equivalent light bulb from about four inches away, FOR TWELVE HOURS! Who wouldn’t go blind?!”

He says that the paper’s author invokes the “blue light hazard”, associates blue light with LEDs, and predicts for the future an epidemic of retina problems due to increased exposure to LED lighting, based on a slight wavelength dependence of the effects.

Mike’s viewpoint is echoed by Henry Lau at the Institute of Physics: “LEDs produce light at the same frequency range as sunlight; it’s called visible light on the electromagnetic spectrum. Unlike sunlight, however, the light from LEDs is not intense enough to damage someone’s eyes. Only ultraviolet and higher frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum can cause damage to cells.”

Blue light LEDs

Another report in ECN forcefully advises that research into blue light exposure from LEDs possibly leading to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is also too sketchy. ECN notes that: “From the physics, it is high-energy blue or UV that could cause the damage. It would have to be exposure to sunlight in childhood when these can still reach the retina. This suggests a long latency period before AMD is identified.”

And, crucially, it underlines that at normal indoor intensities, any health effects they might have “are similar or the same as fluorescent tubes or light bulbs”.

For the sake of objective, scientific balance, we can point to other studies that indicate many benefits of LED lighting.

Clinical studies have identified promising health benefits resulting from LED lighting. Controlled trials involving patients suffering from mood disorders such as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), Depression, Chronic Fatigue and Post Partum Depression have determined that the use of LED lighting is effective treatment for SAD.

The studies by the American Psychiatric Association are continuing to investigate LED light effect on Alzheimer’s disease, jet lag, insomnia, eating disorders, sleep pattern disturbances and other behavioural problems.

LED health benefits

Studies in Europe and the US are also determining the long term beneficial effects of subjects exposed to LED lighting in the workplace compared to standard fluorescent lighting commonly used in office environments and manufacturing facilities. These should add further data to current views of the health benefits of LED lighting.

NASA and researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee are investigating the use of LED lighting for pain reduction therapy in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Preliminary results show that the use of LED lights resulted in significant relief from side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, thereby significantly improving their quality of life.

Initial research also demonstrated that only 53 per cent of treated patients developed mucositis, a side effect of chemo and radiation, compared to the usual rate of 70 – 90 percent.

Positive results have come from commercial experiments on the Space Station by using LED lighting to promote plant growth. Biologists found that cells exposed to light from LEDs, grow 150 to 200 percent faster than cells not stimulated by such light. In the same process, the light arrays increase energy inside cells that speed up the healing process.

For us, all this expert knowledge should put everyone’s mind at ease – LED lighting is not dangerous to health and the benefits go beyond saving energy, cutting bills and reducing carbon emissions.

The LED lighting team here at SaveMoneyCutCarbon are here to help you with any queries and needs – call us on 0845 123 5464.



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