Are LEDs a health risk?

The EU Verdict: LED Bulbs Aren’t Bad For You

New technology, rightly, faces a lot of scrutiny before we accept it. LED bulbs have been facing detrimental health accusations for a while: “They’re bad for our eyes!” some have claimed, alongside vague worries that the lamps’ materials are unsafe.

So are LEDs a health risk? We’d like to point you towards the latest research, and throw our weight on the side of the ‘no’ argument. As you’ll see, much of it has been conjecture, a knee-jerk response to upheaval in the lighting market….


The objections to LED bulbs

We know this whole debate may be news to some of you. Therefore, let us summarise what’s been bandied about in academic/industry circles for the last couple of years.

Artificial light – and our exposure to it – has been a subject of concern for a while, but has picked up pace since backlit LCD displays and the like have latched onto daily life. Our tablets, phones and computers bathe us in a near-constant glow; no wonder, then, that LED bulbs are facing the same argument about what kind of light is good for us.

In 2010, two high-profile studies emerged. One was a general conclusion that light sources, depending on intensity and prolonged use, can disrupt behavioural centres in the brain. Another, published by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, posited that the blue light in a ‘white’ LED causes ocular stress on the retina. This is a roundabout way to say that LED bulbs might impact our vision over time.

In the following decade, many investigations took their lead, such as the work of the AMA’s (American Medical Association) 2016 report. Collectively, these ideas focused on the potential for reduced sleep and mental focus, thanks to the lack of UV waves in LEDs. Yet the most recent academic announcement is countering them with due force…


Why they’re mistaken

“LEDs are safe” – that is the verdict from the European Union’s research committee, who have been analysing evidence for and against sustained use.

They’ve drawn up a draft of their findings, which come out in favour of LED lighting. The research says there is no clear correlation between the influence of LEDs and troubled sleep patterns, pointing to the mental effort of watching/reading/typing late at night as a logical cause. They also tell us that examples of nausea – pinned specifically on LEDs in virtual reality headsets – are likely the result of motion sickness, rather than the bulbs having a detrimental power over our physiology.

They do suggest, however, that constant exposure to the ‘blue light’ spectrum isn’t good for us. That’s why, the EU commission stresses, many findings are inaccurate, as they don’t reflect the typical LED consumption of a regular person. The fearful headlines aren’t justified, because they imply an exposure level that’s far beyond what the average consumer will use and stare at directly.

So, according to the EU, LEDs aren’t a health risk after all. You can read a summary of the report here, and once you’re done, head over to Well Lit’s stockpile of high-quality LED designs. By choosing bulbs with the EU-regulated CE mark from us, you can have confidence that your lighting is bright, safe and completely free from health risks.



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