Our good old 40-watt incandescent bulbs are slowly going extinct as LED bulbs take over the market. In 2016, LED bulb sales saw a 400% growth in the prices of these lights dropped by 50%, thanks to subsidies from the Indian government. Using LED bulbs saves energy and money, as they require 25-80% less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last 3-25 times longer. However, scientists say that LED lights come with their own set of health risks and are not a “warm light for all mankind”!
LED bulbs are considered to be a step up from CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) as CFL bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, which are released when the bulb breaks. But LED bulbs also pose a health risk, not because of their components, but because of the type of light they emit. The light from LED bulbs appears white to us, but they actually emit blue light, which has been .
Increase In Body Weight
“Disruption of the body’s circadian rhythms lead to weight gain, slower thinking, and impulsiveness and other behavioral changes”
The body’s natural clock is called the circadian rhythm. This clock governs our sleep patterns and also affects the functioning of various organs. Studies show that the disruption of circadian rhythms can have devastating physiological and psychological health effects. The most obvious effects of such a shift include weight gain, slower thinking, and impulsiveness and other behavioral changes.
Disruption Of Sleep Cycles
“Exposure to the blue light from LEDs suppresses melatonin production – this disrupts an individual’s sleep cycle”
Blue light from sunlight is beneficial during the day as it keeps us awake and alert by suppressing melatonin – the hormone that controls sleep and wake cycles. However, several studies show that nocturnal exposure to blue light induces melatonin inhibition and this in turn disrupts sleep cycles. Scientists have found that the proliferation of LEDs is one of the main reasons for the increase in nocturnal blue light exposure.
Damage To Retinal Cells
“Studies show that prolonged exposure to blue light may increase the risk of retinal injury and subsequent eye problems such as age-related macular degeneration”
Animal studies indicate that long-term exposure to blue light can have a direct effect on the eye as it could damage retinal cells. These studies show that prolonged exposure to blue light may increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and similar ocular problems arising from cumulative retinal damage. Studies show that it is not the total light iradiance that determines retinal photochemical injury, but instead it is the wavelength of the light.
Precautions To Take When Buying LED Bulbs
When buying an LED bulb, you should check the specifications, particularly the spectral output of the light bulb. Avoid LEDs that have an emission peak that is below 450 nm and instead opt for bulbs that have an emission peak of 470–480 nm. Short-term studies show that blue light from LEDs in the 470–480 nm range does not increase the risk of retinal damage, but the effects of long-term exposure are still undetermined.
You can reduce the health risks from LED bulbs by using a lampshade over your bulb, as this will reduce your exposure to blue light. Alternatively, you can invest in special bulbs that reduce or eliminate blue light. These small steps will go a long way in reducing your exposure to the negative effects of LEDs.