Cold water poured on LED health risk claims

The respected Lighting Research Centre in the United States has issued a pointed critique of the American Medical Association’s recent warning that LED could be a health risk.

The LRC noted in its online opinion that the blue light that is emitted from LEDs is ‘probably not a concern to the majority of the population’ due to our natural sensitivity to light and slammed the AMA’s report for ‘misapplying short term metrics’.

Without fully defining both the stimulus and the response, nothing meaningful can be stated about the health effects of any light source 

The Lighting Research Centre 

Doctors at the AMC issued a statement last month indicating that it believed that the blue light emitted by LEDs may have the ability to interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm, our natural 24-hour-cycle, which regulates sleeping patterns.

The AMA also noted that the brighter residential lighting produced by LED street luminaires may impair daytime functioning and lead to a greater incidence of obesity.

However, the LRC argues that both the stimulus and the response has to be adequately defined when developing a critique, something that it believes the AMC has failed to do in its report.

‘Without fully defining both the stimulus and the response, nothing meaningful can be stated about the health effects of any light source,’ the Research Centre argues.

The LRC believes that not enough is currently known to come to any conclusion about the potential circadian disruption caused by LED.

‘LED sources dominated by short wavelengths have greater potential for suppressing melatonin at night than sodium-based light sources. However, the amount and the duration of exposure need to specified,’ the LRC continued.

The AMA recommends in its report that outdoor lighting at night, particularly street lighting, should have a colour temperature no greater than 3000 Kelvin.

However, the LRC notes in the conclusion of its statement that colour temperature is not appropriate for characterising the potential impacts of a light source on human health. This is because the CCT metric is independent of nearly all the important factors associated with light exposure, namely its amount, duration and timing.


  • Learn more about the risks of LED at this year's LuxLive exhibition in London on Wednesday 23 November and Thursday 24 November 2016. Entry is free if you preregister here


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