Is LED Light Harmful to Your Health?

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Questions about the harmful effects of LED lights are everywhere. Blue light blockers have become commonplace at the office, and phones have nighttime settings to minimize blue light exposure when it’s closer to bedtime. There are also claims that retinas can be harmed by blue light. 

Yet, according to the EU’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) group, “Studies show that the radiance from LED screens in TVs, laptops, phones, tablets and toys is less than 10% of the maximum amount within safe limits set to protect the retina from injury. That means they pose no risk to the eyes in normal use.” Also of note: the LEDs in this case are right in front of a person’s face—not shining down on a work area.

However, what could surprise you is that LEDs may actually have some associated health benefits. Let’s walk through LED history, understand how LEDs work and function compared to other lighting options, and discuss the safety of LEDs—particularly in industrial work settings.

Key Takeaways

  • LED lighting is safer than other lighting options due to lack of toxic materials, fire hazard, and harmful UV light.
  • LEDs contain higher levels of blue light, but the benefits outweigh any potential risks, especially in industrial work settings.
  • LED lighting provides safety from accidents, fights fatigue, and boosts mood.

LED Lights: What Are They?

LED stands for light-emitting diode. It has two sides—the anode and the cathode. When electricity flows in the component from one side (the positive) to the other (the negative) the LED emits light. LEDs do not use heat to produce light (like the filament in an incandescent bulb) and in comparison, LEDs use very little electricity.

LEDs were invented in 1962 by Nick Holonyak, Jr., a scientist at GE trying to create a visible laser. His first LED was red. GE then made a green and yellow LED. They began to be used in IBM’s circuit boards, inside digital watches, and by the time they were in traffic lights and brake lights, 15 years had passed. 

Today’s LED technology has become brighter, even more energy efficient, and LEDs last longer before needing replacement. Also of note: when LEDs were first marketed for commercial use, they weren’t available in the warm, golden color we’re now used to as an LED option—only the blue-white color. With a varying spectrum of brightness, LEDs can be completely customizable according to the needs of the space and the desires of the business / facility owner.

Safety of LED Lighting vs. Legacy Lighting Alternatives

Let’s compare LEDs to their alternative counterparts (and their possible harmful effects): Incandescent, fluorescent, and HID (High Intensity Discharge) lighting. The health benefits of LED stand out above the rest in the list:

Incandescent

Incandescent lights risk overheating. They can be hot to the touch, and in the wrong conditions, they can become a fire hazard.

Fluorescent Light

Fluorescent lights contain mercury and produce UV light. UV light can cause eye problems, including damage to the cornea, macular degeneration, and cataracts, all leading to decreased vision. Mercury exposure can cause harm to the central nervous system and can cause skin corrosion (among other things).

High-Intensity Discharge (HID)

Some HID lamps contain hazardous radioactive materials, such as krypton-85 and thorium. Additionally, exposure to HID lamps without proper UV-light blocking filters can cause sunburn of the eye in the cornea and conjunctiva.

Overview of some of the health and safety risks associated with common lighting sources

LEDs

  • LED lights do not produce harmful UV rays.
  • LED lights do not contain toxic mercury in any amount.
  • LED lights are cool to the touch, producing minimal heat (safer to touch and last much longer)
  • LED lights are more efficient than other lighting options (less frequent replacement means less downtime and fewer manlifts to replace lights, too.)

In addition to the above points, fluorescent lights can cause eye strain, headaches, fatigue and lack of focus. Without concentration, you lose productivity and safety. If you’re in need of light immediately, for safety reasons, don’t choose HID lighting—it takes longer to start up and fully illuminate. If you’re hoping to keep your workspace lit for longer without overheating or creating a fire hazard, don’t select incandescent. 

HID and fluorescent lights can also fall from the ceiling from industrial vibration—if they crack, the mercury in fluorescent lights can cause toxic exposure. If sodium lights (part of the HID category) crack, they can post a UV radiation hazard. All HID and fluorescent tubes and lamps have mercury. In fact, fluorescent lamps created before 1994 may have almost 50mg of mercury in just a 4-foot lamp. Today’s fluorescent bulbs have less mercury, but are still subject to special handling and recycling due to the mercury inside.

LEDs can run for longer, while producing less heat they maintain light-levels but reduce fire and toxicity hazards— one of the biggest safety impacts.

What about the Blue Light from LEDs?

Blue light has always been around. The sun is, after all, a natural source of blue light. With the onset of technology and screens, which are practically everywhere, blue light exposure is higher than ever—which is generally fine, but keep the benefits and tips in mind. Also of note: LEDs emit blue light along with multiple other colors of light in the spectrum.

Blue Light Benefits

Blue light helps keep you alert. It improves mood and morale. In fact, one-third of workers specify that access to comfortable light (intensity and color) is important for their daily health. (But you need the right partner to help you choose that light in order to reap its benefits.) 

Tips About Blue Light

Unless you’re a swift worker, avoid blue light before you go to bed. It’s meant to keep you alert as it suppresses your body’s release of melatonin—especially when it’s inches from your face on your cell phone. Most blue light warnings stem from the overuse of technology and screens and the close proximity to our faces/eyes. Discomfort that you feel from staring at screens all day is likely eye strain, not pain from blue light—for screens, follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, stare at something ~20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help keep your eyes from straining.

Health Benefits Of LED Lights

LED light technology provides several health benefits, from improving sleep patterns to reducing the symptoms of certain skin conditions.

  1. Circadian Rhythm Regulation: Exposure to the right kind of LED light during the day can help regulate our body’s natural 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. Studies have shown that blue-enriched LED light can boost alertness and performance during the day, and enhance sleep quality at night.1
  2. Improved Mood and Productivity: Bright LED light mimicking daylight can help improve mood, energy, alertness, and productivity, particularly during darker winter months.
  3. Eye Safety: Unlike traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, LEDs can provide bright, uniform light, reducing glare and minimizing the strain on our eyes.
  4. Reduced Exposure to Hazardous Substances: As LEDs do not contain harmful substances like mercury found in some traditional lighting, there is less risk of exposure to these toxins.
  5. No UV Emissions: LED lights emit very small amounts of UV light, reducing potential harm to the skin or eyes and preventing damage to materials and surfaces.

Is LED Light Harmful To Your Health?

In an era where energy efficiency and sustainability are at the forefront of consumer considerations, LED lighting has emerged as a popular choice. Despite the numerous advantages it offers—such as energy efficiency, durability, and eco-friendliness—LED lighting also raises questions about potential health risks. This article aims to dispel concerns and clarify misconceptions, focusing on LED lights, their benefits, and how to use them safely.

To delve deeper into this topic and understand how LED lighting can positively impact your life without compromising your health, we strongly encourage you to visit PEC. Discover a wealth of resources and guidance tailored to help you illuminate your world safely and efficiently.

What Are LED Lights?

LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights are a type of lighting technology that is considered energy efficient and durable. They work by passing an electrical current through a microchip, which illuminates the tiny light sources we call LEDs. This process results in visible light.

The primary advantage of LED lighting is its high efficiency. Unlike incandescent bulbs, which waste most of their energy as heat, LEDs use almost all their energy to produce light, significantly reducing power consumption.

What Are The Benefits Of Choosing LED Lights?

LED lights offer many benefits that make them an attractive choice for lighting. They are durable, energy-efficient, eco-friendly, and can even have health benefits. Here are some Benefits of Choosing LED Lights:

Safety

LED lights are safer compared to traditional lighting options for several reasons. 

  • They operate at significantly lower temperatures, reducing the risk of burns and fires.
  • They do not contain hazardous substances like mercury, found in some other types of lights. 
  • Their longer lifespan means fewer replacements, minimizing the risk of accidents during installation and disposal.

Durability

They can withstand tough conditions such as extreme temperatures, vibration, and impact, making them ideal for a wide range of applications. Unlike incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, LEDs do not have filaments or glass enclosures that are easily broken. Thanks to this, they can last up to 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs, providing reliable illumination over the long term.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is one of the main benefits of LED lighting. LED lights are much more energy-efficient than traditional lighting such as incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs use up to 80% less energy than traditional bulbs, making them a more cost-effective and eco-friendly choice. 

LED bulbs also last much longer than traditional bulbs, so you don’t have to replace them as often. This means that you can save money in the long run by using LED lighting. LED lights also produce less heat than traditional bulbs, meaning that they are a much safer option. This is especially important in areas with young children or pets, as LED lights can help to prevent accidental burns.

Eco-Friendly

LED lights are environmentally friendly in various ways. As mentioned, their energy efficiency leads to less energy waste, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, their long lifespan means fewer replacements, resulting in less waste. 

Unlike compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), LEDs do not contain mercury, a toxic substance harmful to the environment. Therefore, their disposal poses fewer environmental concerns. Choosing LED lights is a practical step towards more sustainable living and working environments.

What Are The Effects Of Blue Light?

Blue light is a type of visible light that is found in the spectrum of visible light that is emitted from digital devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. It is also found in artificial lighting such as LED bulbs. 

  1. Digital Eye Strain: Spending extended periods in front of digital devices can lead to digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome, causing symptoms such as sore and tired eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and difficulty focusing.
  2. Sleep Disruption: Exposure to blue light close to bedtime can disrupt the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, potentially leading to sleep disturbances and insomnia.
  3. Potential Eye Damage: Over time, chronic exposure to intense blue light may potentially damage the cells in the retina, leading to conditions like age-related macular degeneration.

How To Keep Safe From Blue Light

Blue light emitted from LED lights can be potentially harmful to your health. It is important to take steps to protect yourself from the potential risks of LED light exposure. Here are some tips on how to keep safe from blue light:

Limit Exposure

To keep safe from blue light, aim to reduce the amount of time spent in front of digital screens, particularly in the hours before bedtime.

Choose Warm-Colored LED Bulbs

Selecting warm-colored LED bulbs for indoor lighting can help minimize blue light exposure, especially in the evenings when it’s most crucial to avoid it.

Take Regular Breaks

Implement the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. This helps to rest your eyes and reduce digital eye strain.

Maintain Proper Distance

Ensure you maintain an appropriate distance from digital screens – typically, arm’s length is a good measure. This distance can help reduce exposure to intense blue light and prevent digital eye strain.

Considerations When Buying LED Lights

When purchasing LED lights, several factors need to be considered to ensure you get the most suitable and efficient lighting for your needs:

  1. Brightness and Color: LED lights come in a range of brightness levels and colors. Look at the lumen rating to understand the light’s brightness, and consider the color temperature (measured in Kelvin) to determine the color of light it produces.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Check the wattage of the LED light. Lower wattage means less energy consumption, making the light more energy-efficient.
  3. Lifespan: LED lights are known for their longevity, but lifespan can still vary among different models. Check the rated life, typically expressed in hours, to get an idea of how long the light should last.
  4. Cost: While LEDs are typically more expensive upfront than traditional light bulbs, their long life and energy efficiency often make them more cost-effective in the long run.
  5. Compatibility: Ensure the LED lights are compatible with your existing fixtures and dimmers. Not all LED lights work with all types of dimmers or fixtures, so it’s important to verify this beforehand.
  6. Certification: Look for LEDs that have been certified by recognized testing laboratories. These certifications ensure that the product meets specific safety and performance standards.

Where To Find The Best LED Lights

Choosing the perfect LED lights for your residential or commercial space might seem overwhelming, given the variety of types, colors, and wattages available. However, by keeping a few key factors in mind, you can simplify this selection process.

  • Wattage: If you require a brightly lit area, high wattage bulbs would be a wise choice. Moreover, if you want to control the brightness level, opt for dimmable LED lights.
  • Color temperature: LED lights offer a spectrum of color temperatures, from warm white (2700K) to cool white (5000K). Opt for warmer hues for a calm, cozy ambiance, while cooler tones are best for task lighting.
  • Type of LED light: With a plethora of options such as spotlights, floodlights, bulbs, and strips, it’s important to choose the type that best fits your specific needs.
  • Cost: Although LED lights have a higher initial cost compared to traditional bulbs, their superior energy efficiency and longevity can lead to significant savings on your energy bills over time.

Learn How Led Lighting Can Be Safe For Your Health With PEC!

The rising popularity of LED lighting in recent times can be attributed to its superior energy efficiency, remarkable durability, and environmental friendliness. However, concerns about the possible health implications of LED light have emerged, particularly related to the emission of blue light and other LED light types. Thankfully, measures exist to ensure safe and health-conscious use of LED lighting.

PEC is a dedicated organization committed to educating the public about safe practices when using LED lighting, thereby ensuring health safety. 

A key area of PEC’s research involves studying the impact of blue light – a specific type of light emitted by LED lights and various electronic devices – on human health. Prolonged exposure to blue light may induce eye strain, headaches, and other health issues. To mitigate these potential health concerns, PEC advises limiting blue light exposure and opting for warm-colored LED bulbs.

Final Thoughts

LED lights are a great choice for those looking for energy efficiency and durability. They can also be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money in the long run. With organizations like PEC at the forefront of research and education, it becomes easier for us to make informed decisions about the usage of LED lights, always prioritizing our health and well-being. By understanding the effects of blue light and taking necessary precautionary measures, we can embrace the benefits of LED lighting without compromising our health.

For more detailed insights and tailored advice about LED lighting, please visit PEC, North America’s leading energy optimization company. We offer a wealth of resources designed to help you navigate the LED lighting landscape. If you have any further queries or require personalized guidance, feel free to reach out to us. PEC is dedicated to illuminating your path to safe and efficient LED lighting usage.

Wish to learn more? Check out our other insightful blogs:

Conclusion

LED lighting is safer than other types of light installations thanks to the decreased or mitigated risk of toxic materials, fire hazard and harmful UV light found in other lighting options like HID, fluorescent and incandescents. LED lighting does contain higher amounts of blue light than other options, but the benefits far outweigh any perceived risks, particularly in industrial work settings.

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