EU gives LEDs a clean bill of health

LEDs are safe.

That’s the verdict of a European Union committee specialising in emerging health risks, in a new report on the potential hazards of LED lighting.

The committee concluded that there is 'no evidence of direct adverse health effects' from LEDs in normal everyday use.

Concerns have been raised over the years that light from LEDs could damage people’s eyes and skin, or even disrupt sleep. But the committee’s report said that studies pointing to health risks have tended to be based on conditions and exposure levels that don’t reflect real life.

It acknowledged 'low levels of evidence' that exposure to LED backlit screens late at night can disrupt circadian rhythms, but said it was not clear if the apparent effect on people’s sleep was due to the light itself, or to the mental activity involved in using the device.

As for virtual reality headsets, the report concluded that motion sickness – rather than LED backlighting – was to blame for users reporting disorientation and nausea.

However, the report highlighted issues relating to flicker, dazzle and glare, and warned specifically about pulsed light emission from LED lights in cars, which could be distracting to drivers.

It also raised concerns relating to certain vulnerable sections of the population. These include young children, who are at higher risk of being dazzled by blue lights and suffering retinal damage; and elderly people, who may experience discomfort from LEDs or find LED displays harder to read.

As LED technology continues to evolve, the committee said 'it is important to closely monitor the risk of adverse health effects from long-term LED usage by the general population'.

Industry body LightingEurope has welcomed the report, which it said would help in the organisation’s work 'to inform the market on good-quality lighting and to support consumers in making informed choices'. LightingEurope is now reviewing the report and will submit its views to the committee before the final draft is published.

Interested parties have until 17 September 2017 to comment on the draft.


  • Glare, flicker and wellbeing with LEDs are among the topics on the programme for this year's LuxLive exhibition and conference taking place on Wednesday 15 November and Thursday 16 November 2017. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.


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