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Is LED Lighting Harmful To Health? The Dark Side Of LED Lighting Graphic © healthpowerboost.com. Background images: Shutterstock #1706799604 (under license)
We think of LED lights as a very recent invention, but Light-emitting diode (LED) technology has in fact been around for over half a century. It was introduced in 1962 by General Electric scientist Nick Holonyak Jr., who named it ‘the magic one.”
These lights have, since then, gained recognition worldwide. As documented by Statista, LEDs are now very big business. They are worth US$ 86 billion in global market share.  This is mainly because they are both energy efficient and have a long lifespan, making them preferable from an environmental standpoint. Relative to old-style filament lighting, more of the energy is converted to light and less is converted to heat. This has made the CFL and incandescent lighting options to be phased out as the LEDs slowly become the standard lighting technology.
However, the side effects of these lights, in regard to the safety and health effect of the light they emit, isn’t a topic that’s discussed often. It’s a hard pill to swallow for the consumer trying to save a dime on their electricity, the government trying to cut carbon emissions and even the LED industry.
But its dangers have been backed up by study after study, as a Harvard Medical School report puts it.  In fact, one physician and professor at Wismar University in Germany, Alexander Wunsch, clearly states that:
“Blue light, isolated from all the other colors on the light spectrum, is damaging our retinas and disrupting our endocrine systems, resulting in all sorts of physical and mental illness.”
The Difference Between Natural Light And Led Light
Natural light is full of dynamic (the intensity and mix of colors depending on the time of the day) and spectrum (light contains all the colors of the rainbow).
In an interview, Alexander Wunsch explains that natural light gives out these colors in a continuous way.  It cycles from soft with a concentration of red in the evenings to bright with blue content during the day. The soft red-rich light signals our body time to relax and enter the sleepy zone, while the bright blue-rich one tells us to be alert and awake.
Regarding infrared radiation— an electromagnetic radiation spectrum region with wavelengths ranging from 700 nanometers to 1 millimeter— Wunsch says that you can feel its heat and warmth. Incandescent light bulbs are examples of lights that generate this radiation. This heat requires more electricity, but it’s worth the extra cost as the red light it gives benefits your health.
The near-infrared is the part found just past the visible red color in the rainbow spectrum. This light has a wavelength of between 700 and 2500 nanometers and is an essential source of energy for humans. It can be generated by fire or candle and helps prime the cells in your retina for repair, regeneration, and rest. However, Wunsch says most people are deficient in it. He also says he uses near-infrared light as therapy for his patients.
When it comes to artificial light sources, most have a static spectrum meaning their mix of colors doesn’t change with the time of the day as seen in natural light. These lights are designed to replicate either evening light or daylight.
As for the typical white LEDs, they contain a blue light-emitting phosphor (fluorescent) and diode coating. The phosphor coating converts some blue light into longer wavelengths that are still invisible blue light. This results in a yellowish “looking” light.
Is Led Lighting Harmful To Health?
LEDs lights have caused substantial biological impacts across the world. According to The Guardian, they have altered the behavioral patterns of animals like moths and bats.  This is because blue light radiation suppresses melatonin production, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep patterns in animals and humans.
Humans have also been greatly affected since most of their activities require staring at phones and iPad, whose displays are backlighted by LED technology. Here are more health problems associated with excess blue light:
• Eye damage: Perhaps the most concerning damage by blue light is to the eye. The peer-reviewed journal Molecular Vision published a study where they noted that exposure to blue light with wavelengths ranging between 400-470 nm is responsible for inducing severe damage to the retina.  Blue light radiation can also damage the retinal pigment epithelium, which could eventually lead to the death of the photoreceptor cell.  And if this happens, total blindness can occur.
• Blue light after sunset can disrupt our endocrine system. An article published by Harvard Medical School has linked night shifts to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and several types of cancer, i.e., breast and prostate. 
• Light suppresses the hormone melatonin, which influences circadian rhythms. This is why blue light causes heart disease, obesity, etc. Dr. Wunsch adds that excessive exposure to blue light creates oxidative stress, damaging proteins, DNA, and lipids. He also says it’s linked to a myriad of pathologies. 
LED lighting can cause severe problems to your eyes and overall health. In the interview, Wunsch gives tips on how to choose the right bulbs. He says that one should buy LED bulbs with CRI 97, which is closer to that of the sun’s natural light spectrum, which is rated as 100 on the same scale.
Remember, as crucial as getting the correct bulb is, don’t forget to forgo your caffeine intake past noon, put away your phone an hour before bed, and give yourself the opportunity to sleep.
 Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
 The Dangers of LED Lighting: An Interview With Dr. Alexander Wunsch: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Interview-AlexanderWunsch-TheDangersofLEDLighting.pdf
 Tosini, G., Ferguson, I., & Tsubota, K. (2016). Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Molecular vision, 22, 61: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734149/
 Schieber, M., & Chandel, N. S. (2014). ROS function in redox signaling and oxidative stress. Current biology, 24(10), R453-R462: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4055301/
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