The adverse health effects produced by various forms of artificial lighting has been the subject in order to ascertain whether human beings are helping or harming their cognitive, emotional and physical well-being in indoor and outdoor environments.
Studies of light effects on children
As published and reviewed on the website e-How.com, the work of Dr. Warren Hathaway, a lighting researcher, studies how children perform under exposure to different types of lighting. In a review of Dr. Hathaway’s work by e-How contributor Greg Fish, the findings were remarkable in what they reveal about how lighting potentially affects each and every one of us.
In summary the findings were as follows:
- Children with regular exposure to moderate amounts of natural light are taller than those who spend most of their time under artificial lights.
- Children who spend most of their time under artificial light, even when more active, are prone to getting fat.
- Children with excessive exposure to artificial light may get more cavities.
If these findings are true, as we shall examine further, then artificial lighting itself is something of a danger to the health of many people.
Fluorescent and sodium vapor lighting
The degree of harm also varies with the type of artificial lighting to which people are exposed. Dr. Hathaway’s study showed that natural lighting improved learning ability in children, allowing them to learn more easily.
But children who worked under high-pressure sodium vapor lights fared far worse, scoring the lowest in academic achievement tests. Sodium vapor lights also are linked to higher absentee rates from school.
Fluorescent lighting is also apparently “no bargain” when it comes to effects on human health either. The list of negative health conditions linked to exposure to fluorescent lighting reads like a Who’s Who of modern disease. Aggression, ALS, ADD, autism, cancer, reduced concentration, dyslexia, eye irritation, eye strain, fatigue, headaches, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, lupus, reduced muscle strength, MS, nausea and xeroderm pigmentosum. And that’s just a partial list of problems stemming from too much exposure to fluorescent lighting.
The future is now with LED lighting
Artificial lighting alternatives are now being studied as possible replacements for so-called traditional forms of lighting including incandescent bulbs, fluorescent and sodium vapor lights.
One of the leading forms of light alternatives is LED bulbs. Research on the relative health benefits of LED bulbs is proceeding at a fast pace, because the markets and applications for these types of bulbs is growing at an exponential rate. On the negative side, there is some evidence that LED bulbs can have adverse effects on people with Electro-hypersensitivity, Lupus and other conditions.
Yet there is also direct evidence that LED bulbs have direct health benefit applications and possible indirect benefits in terms of controlling light spectrums where indoor and outdoor lighting play roles in aesthetics and imitation of natural light. LED bulbs seem to show particular promise in some of these areas.
LED Light Therapy
In a page titled The Cosmetic and Healing Benefits of LED Light Therapy, the website O2Planet.com states of LED light therapy: “One of the most acclaimed and documented treatments for aging, healing wounds, improving skin diseases such as eczema and treating brain tumors and compromised skin cells (such as in the mouths of cancer patients), LED light therapy is fast becoming a revolution in health care.”
It continues: “LED light therapy is a non-invasive procedure done with panels of red and/or infrared lights that deliver low-level pulses of light up to three times brighter than the sun to activate skin cells. It works like photosynthesis for the skin – it converts light energy already found in skin cells to promote healing and anti-aging effects.”
The clinical backing for such treatments comes from the FDA, which allows advertising for these types of treatments.
Broader spectrum lighting benefits
The broad-spectrum benefits of LED lighting include less flickering than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, reducing eye strain and health risks such as headaches and even nausea generated by “traditional” lighting. LED bulbs also run silently, reducing noise emitted by light fixtures and bulbs, cutting down on the constant hum that can be distracting at home or in the workplace.
LED bulbs also run cooler and last longer, so their net environmental impact and carbon footprint tends to be much lower than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, for example.
Tuning LED bulbs to particular light wavelengths holds great promise in applications such as outdoor lighting where municipalities are replacing hard white fluorescent bulbs and sodium vapor lights in streetlamps with LED bulbs that can mimic, with greater intensity of course, the light emitted from the moon.
Artificial lighting is a necessary and vital part of modern society, and the new technology of LED bulbs holds much promise to revolutionize the costs and health benefits of lighting in nearly every application of artificial lighting. LED lights are even being used to essentially invent new ways to use light because of their long-lasting bulb life and energy-sipping technology.
That makes for a bright and healthy future for LED bulbs, and the people who use them.