Archive for Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Editorial: Lighting switch not necessary

It doesn’t make financial or environmental sense for the city to change plans on outdoor lighting.

February 20, 2018

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The Lawrence City Commission should follow the recommendation of city staff and continue using its current LED lighting for city street lamps, despite an effort by some to get the city to change.

At a meeting tonight, commissioners will consider city staff’s recommendation to continue using LED lighting that emits a blue-rich white light. Some studies have shown that nighttime exposure to blue light is unhealthy, and a group called the Lawrence Alliance for Responsible Lighting is asking the city to consider switching to lighting with a color temperature less than 3,000 kelvins.

Adrian Melott, emeritus professor in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas, is a member of the alliance. He cited a recommendation from the American Medical Association that warns against light with a color temperature higher than 3,000 kelvins because it can disrupt human sleep and disorient some animal species.

Melott added that lower color temperature bulbs are similar in price to the LED brand used in Lawrence, which are 4,000 kelvins.

“It’s typically about 3 percent,” Melott said. “So, to sacrifice the environment, human health and wildlife health for a 3 percent difference is to me not a very good idea.”

But there are varying opinions on the AMA recommendation. The lighting industry has vigorously challenged the accuracy of the AMA’s advisory. And the Department of Energy issued a response that said the effects of exposure to blue light at night also apply to light from television, phone and computer screens and depend on the amount of light and duration of exposure.

City staff said it could be costly to change the lighting now. Gina Penzig, a spokeswoman for Westar Energy, said LED lighting is embedded in the street lamps, meaning changing the lighting would require new streetlight fixtures.

Westar owns a majority of the outdoor lighting in Lawrence. Including traffic lights, Westar owns 3,500 lights while the city owns about 800 street, pedestrian or parking lot lights. Westar is also converting to LED lights and is using 4,000-kelvin lights.

Changing the city’s lighting without Westar doing the same would have minimal impact, if any, on Lawrence lighting. The city spent $850,000 on street lighting service in 2017, and staff estimates “the potential for a significant cost impact” if the city were to switch lighting.

As the city considers future street light projects, perhaps there is a different lighting that will better meet Lawrence’s needs. But it doesn’t make financial or environmental sense to switch in the middle of the city’s current project to update its outdoor lighting. The city should thank the Lawrence Alliance for Responsible Lighting for its information, but stick with its existing lighting plans.

Comments

Louis Kannen 2 months, 4 weeks ago

 A bit curious...exactly when was tonight's City Council meeting announced and published, including any and all Agenda additions? Ostensibly, your Council's prevailing predilection would seem a bit the "foregone conclusion variety". Will in fact your Council's 'Power-Point' presentation, if any, be utilized to engage in ALL substantive and necessary dialog BEFORE making any decision(s on an issue that will have demonstrable impact on your citizenry?
  Or will it simply be another requisite "Dog & Pony" show on a "Smoke Screen" of sorts, attempting to support the Council's, Westar's 'Fox & Chicken Coop' Business Philosophy's and the JW's seemingly

co-aligned, pre-determined decision?? Time to make your voices heard.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 months, 4 weeks ago

"Some studies have shown that nighttime exposure to blue light is unhealthy

Huh????

What studies? What group? Where is the validity of these "studies"??

This is the most ignorant, stupid and utterly misleading comment I think I have ever heard.

The "color" of light being unhealthy????? What a crock!!

What next......the color of Stop signs being unsettling?? Red can be VERY unsettling you know. We need turquoise stop signs to keep some folks from felling attacked by the corner "Stop" sign................yeah..........just as stupid and insignificant.

Calvin Anders 2 months, 4 weeks ago

The color of light is unhealthy, yea, what a crock. And the silly claims people used to make about the fumes from lead in gasoline, what a bunch of BS. And all those claims about smoking being bad for one's health, what tripe. And mercury in the water supply and run off from pesticides and excessive nitrogen from fertilizers and exposure to radiation . All of these and many other threats to public health were resisted for as long as possible by industry because it threatened their profit margins.

Ken Lassman 2 months, 3 weeks ago

A ripe sense of irony, Calvin, with just the right dash of sarcasm--nice job: really! The health effects of bluish LEDs is just beginning to be studied, and there are enough red flags to slow down the deployment and even switch colors for now until more research is done. If this turns out to be unnecessary, it's a cost that will be justified compared to if the research turns out to be correct and we have to replace the blue LEDs later and deal with the long line of lawsuits.

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