US Govt to probe human-centric lighting in ER rooms

The US government is to investigate how so-called human-centric lighting can improve the performance of healthcare workers in emergency rooms.

It’s the first major federally-funded study of LED lighting’s impact on alertness, well-being and health, and it’s expected that the learnings will have applications far beyond critical staff in hospitals.

The Energy Department has announced it will pay for the study which is to be carried out by the University of California in San Diego. The objective of the work is gain a basic understanding of circadian health impacts of lighting. The researchers will observe night workers in an emergency room setting to gain insights which can be applied to the development of future LED lighting technology.

The pilot programme is one of seven selected projects which will receive $8 million.

Human-centric lighting has become a hot topic in the lighting industry globally since the discovery in 1991 of special light-sensitive ganglion cells by an Oxford University team led by the neuroscientist Russell Foster.

The cells are sensitive to a narrow range of blue light, around 480nm, and it's these that are key to controlling our circadian rhythms with light.The discovery has changed our understanding and appreciation of the power of light to affect us. In fact, some are starting to describe light as a drug, such is its power to control our health and welling as well as our circadian rhythms.

The lighting industry, unsurprisingly, has jumped on the discovery as it opens up exciting new possibilities to create lighting systems that work more in harmony with people. 

It creates a whole new market of ‘circadian lighting’ at a time when lighting products are becoming commoditised. Early systems, already installed in some schools, workplaces and care homes, feature lighting whose intensity and colour temperature change during the day, allegedly to provide benefits to occupants. 

  • A special human-centric experience at the LuxLive 2017 exhibition and conference in London on Wednesday 15 November and Thursday 16 November will bring together experts and suppliers of circadian and human-centric lighting technologies. Entry is free if you pre-register at


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