One thing that remains constant throughout history is society ever-growing move towards self awareness. As we learn more information about the world, our views adjust and certain trends begin to take off. Being “environmentally friendly” is an example of one such notion, and with that, came the use of LED bulbs.
More and more people have begun to replace their incandescent bulbs with LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes. Not only are they eco-friendly, but the fact remains that these bulbs are much more efficient, last longer, and do not contain as many toxic materials (1). Sounds like a win-win situation right? Well, not quite. With the increased usage of LED bulbs, the sky is continuously being illuminated… an endeavor that is unfortunately increasing light pollution worldwide. (2) This artificial light disrupts natural day-and-night light cycles and thereby hurts biological activities of plants and animals, an example being those organisms that are nocturnal (2). It’s quite ironic that a product viewed as environmentally friendly can actually tend to have a negative impact on ecosystems. Moreover, do not think that humans are excluded from these health effects either. The blue light exposure, often seen emulating from our smartphones, can interfere with our body’s melatonin levels, the hormone that helps us fall asleep (3) LEDs hence have a great impact on circadian sleep rhythms, which could lead to physiological and behavioral consequences. People are buying these bulbs for the sake of its environmental benefits; little do they realize how detrimental it can actually be for the natural world.
Schools, offices, and streetlights are additional places where LED lighting is being implemented. Though such an action may seem minimal, there are certain risks involved. Several studies seem to support a claim that this type of lighting can actually damage the eyes. With the newer generation being continuously exposed to this type of technology, such prolonged exposure can impair cells in the retina, which consists of tissue that is light sensitive. (4) Additionally, these type of bulbs usually have a sort of flickering attributed to them, which could unfortunately increase the risk of having headaches. “The flickering may disrupt the movement control of the eyes and force the brain to work harder” (5). The possibility of acquiring a migraine is apparently more pronounced when a subject is reading (5); such implications in such common situations could allow LEDs to pose a threat to students and workers alike.
Most people seem to agree that the proven benefits outweigh these risks (that may not even come to rise), but it is ultimately up to the consumer. Overall, LEDs are certainly a good choice to consider when regarding energy efficiency and environmentalism, but it is important to account for the serious repercussions as well. The idealism surrounding it all is, well, just a “filament” of our imagination.
References & Footnotes:
- “The Advantages and Disadvantages of LED .” Greenie, greenie-world.com/en/article/the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-led-lighting/.
- Ong, Thuy. “The Unfortunate Side Effect of LED Lighting.” The Verge, 23 Nov. 2017, www.theverge.com/2017/11/23/16693914/energy-leds-boost-light-pollution-worldwide.
- “Are LED Lights Harmful?” The Hindu, 15 Mar. 2018, www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/are-led-lights-harmful/article23255686.ece.
- Reilly, Rachel. “Do ‘Environmentally Friendly’ LED Lights Cause BLINDNESS?” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 14 May 2013, www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2324325/Do-environmentally-friendly-LED-lights-cause-BLINDNESS.html.
- Davis, Russel. “LED Lights: Good for the Planet, Bad for Headaches.” Migraine Again, 15 Aug. 2017, migraineagain.com/led-lights-good-planet-bad-headaches/.