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AMA's street lighting guidance draws response.

Days after the American Medical Association (AMA) announced newly adopted guidance to minimize potential harmful effects of "high intensity LED street lighting," the IES issued a preliminary response "to address the potential for the report and ensuing press to misinform the public with incomplete or inaccurate claims and improper interpretations."

Among its key recommendations in the report entitled "Human and Environmental Effects of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Community Lighting," the AMA encourages both "minimizing and controlling blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare" as well as "the use of 3000K or lower lighting for outdoor installations such as roadways. ..." The IES's preliminary review of the AMA report found that:

1. In 2012, the AMA prepared a Report A-12, "Light Pollution: Adverse Health Effects of Nighttime Illumination." That 2012 report included 134 references and was consistent with IES Standards and findings. The 2012 report recommendations include, "Supports the need for further multidisciplinary research on the risks and benefits of occupational and environmental exposure to light-at-night."

2. The new 2016 report contains 37 references, some of which are repeats from the 2012 report. Our first effort is to establish which of these 37 references, if any, provide any new information significant enough to warrant the change in AMA recommendations. We will also determine if any significant references were not included in the report, but should have been, to ensure accuracy.

3. The IES was not represented in the deliberations leading to this document. We intend to contact the AMA and work with them to ensure that any lighting related recommendations include some discussion with the IES.


The IES statement concludes: "We are dedicated to performing a thorough and reasoned review of this AMA report, on behalf of the IES, our constituencies and the general public." View the complete response at, and check the IES website for updates.

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at RPI also issued a response to the AMA. The LRC's response, prepared by Mark S. Rea and Mariana G. Figueiro, "attempts to draw attention to the problem of misapplying short-hand metrics to the topic of light and health ..." Among its key points, the LRC notes that "until more is known about the effects of long-wavelength light exposure (amount, spectrum, duration) on circadian disruption, it is inappropriate to single out short-wavelength radiation from In-Ga-N LED sources as a causative factor in modern maladies." The full text is available at

IES Members, meanwhile, took to social media to discuss the statement. In response to CNN's coverage of the AMA statement, Edward Bartholomew, commercial lighting program manager at National Grid, posted on LinkedIn: "I thought that CNN sensationalized the AMA's concerns about LED streetlights. Simply put: use 3000K for better vision and to promote circadian entrainment, use good shielding with light being directed to the roadway and not the sky, and incorporate controls to dim the lights during non-peak activity. I would add that a lighting designer is needed in order to balance the human health and visual needs along with energy efficiency and reduced maintenance. This is a win/win/win for the cities and the communities that are illuminated."
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Publication:LD+A Magazine
Date:Aug 1, 2016
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