Letter to the editor: Lighting concerns

To the editor:

I recently read in the Journal-World about LED lights as part of the $11.3 million in upgrades being installed as part of the city’s new energy conservation program. I am all in favor of energy-saving applications including lighting, but caution must be observed.

I am concerned about the effects of blue-rich white LED lighting on the environment and our night sky. A recent report from the American Medical Association finds a consensus among scientific researchers that exposure to blue light presents known health hazards to people and threatens the well-being of most wildlife species. Furthermore, blue-rich white LED streetlights and roadway fixtures create glare that is dangerous for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, potentially making our roads less safe. Finally, blue-rich white light makes skyglow over our cities worse, further straining our connection with nature and our common heritage of dark night skies.

We should take steps to limit the amount of blue light emitted by these fixtures into the environment by placing sensible restrictions on permitted outdoor lighting in Lawrence, consistent with AMA guidance that “communities considering conversion to energy efficient LED street lighting use lower CCT (correlated color temperature) lights that will minimize potential health and environmental effects.” These lights should have a CCT of 3000K or less, use full shielding to minimize light pollution and glare, and have the ability to be dimmed or extinguished when not needed.