International. While the use of LED is expanding for lighting and LED objects are increasing, the National Agency for Sanitary Safety of Food, Environment and Labor (Anses) of France, published the update of its 2010 experience on the health effects of LEDs in light of the new scientific knowledge available.

The Agency confirms the toxicity of blue light in the retina and highlights the effects of altering the biological rhythms and sleep associated with exposure at night to blue light, especially through screens and in particular for children. Therefore, the Agency recommends limiting the use of LED devices that are the richest in blue light, especially for children, and reduce light pollution as much as possible to preserve the environment.

In a context of energy saving policies and the elimination of traditional lamps (incandescent lamps and conventional halogen lamps) from the lighting market, LEDs are expanding considerably due to their efficient energy efficiency. Thus, in a few decades, the exposure of the population to blue light has increased considerably, especially at night with artificial lighting or screens rich in blue light. In fact, LEDs, due to their technological specificity, can emit a light rich in short wavelengths, called "rich in blue", and a lighting more intense than other sources of light, which can induce effects on the health of man as in the environment.

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At the beginning of the deployment of this technology, the first experience of ANSES highlighted the retinal toxicity of the blue light present in LED lighting and recommended adapting the regulatory framework. As a result, currently for interior lighting, only the LED lamps of the risk groups 0 or 1 (in accordance with the photobiological safety standard NF-EN-62471) are accessible to the general public. The most risky lights (groups 2 and 3) are, for their part, reserved for professional use under conditions that guarantee the safety of workers.

The ANSES report publishes a new experience that covers all LED systems and takes into account all the scientific data acquired from 2010.

New highlights related to the blue light of the LEDs.
The new scientific data supports the result of 2010 on the toxicity of blue light in the eye that can lead to decreased vision. They show short-term phototoxic effects related to acute exposure and long-term effects related to chronic exposure, which increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The "warm white" LED lights are indistinguishable from traditional lighting and have a low risk of phototoxicity. On the other hand, other types of LED lighting, such as torches, car headlights, decorations or toys, can emit lights especially rich in blue and belong to the risk group 2, but are not covered by current regulations.

In addition, experience shows that even a very small exposure to blue-rich light at night or night disturbs biological rhythms and, therefore, sleep. ANSES emphasizes that screens, especially computers, smartphones and tablets are important sources of light rich in blue, and children and adolescents, whose eyes do not completely filter the blue light, constitute a particularly sensitive population.

Experience also shows that a high proportion of LED lamps show significant variations in the intensity of light. Certain populations, such as children, adolescents and professionals, may be more sensitive to the potential effects induced by this modulation of light: headaches, visual fatigue, accidental risk, etc.

Change of regulations and more information to the public
In view of the results of its experience, ANSES issued a series of recommendations to limit the exposure of the population to light rich in blue. The Agency reiterated the importance of favoring "warm white" domestic lighting (color temperature below 3000 K). To prevent the effects of the interruption of biological rhythms, he recommended limiting the exposure of populations, especially children, to the intense blue light of LED screens (mobile phones, tablets, computers, etc.) before bedtime. and during the night.

ANSES also recommends changing the regulatory framework applicable to all LED systems, and in particular:

restrict the availability of LED objects for the general public to those of the photobiological risk group 0 or 1;
to limit the luminous intensity of the headlights of motor vehicles, guaranteeing road safety;
Minimize the level of temporary modulation of the light emitted by all light sources (lights, screens, LED objects).

On the other hand, in relation to the means of protection available to the general public, such as treated lenses, protective goggles or specific screens, the Agency noted that its effectiveness against the effects on the retina of blue light is very variable. In addition, its efficacy in the preservation of circadian rhythms is not proven at present.

An impact on biodiversity and the environment.
Regarding the environment, the available studies focus mainly on artificial light at night in general and not specifically on LEDs. Regardless of the ecosystem studied, scientific evidence constantly shows an increase in mortality and a depletion of the diversity of animal and plant species studied in night-light environments, including LED lighting. The Agency recommends strengthening regulations to limit light pollution, while ensuring the safety of people.

Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Journalist from the University of Antioquia (2010), with experience in technology and economics. Editor of the magazines TVyVideo + Radio and AVI Latin America. Academic Coordinator of TecnoTelevisión & Radio.


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