NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They save money and energy, but are the new light bulbs in and around your home putting your health at risk?
“I used to lie in bed at night and look out at the sky,” Jolanta Benal told CBS2’s Dick Brennan. “A bedroom I had to turn into a tomb.”
Benal lives in Windsor Terrace and said the glare from the LED street lamps on her block is so intense that she hung blackout curtains.
“So we could sleep at night,” she said.
It’s an annoyance many people around the Tri-State area have expressed as more and more towns and municipalities switch from orange sodium lights to longer lasting blue LEDs.
“There has not been consideration on the human health impacts, and that’s what I strongly object to,” University of Connecticut, Professor of Medicine, Richard Stevens said.
Stevens has spent more than 30 years studying the effects of artificial light.
“There is no question too bright light, particularly blue short wavelength light in the evening has potent effects on our physiology,” he said.
In particular, he said, study after study showed it severely suppresses the production of melatonin, a much-needed hormone.
“Increasing the risk of diabetes, obesity, depression,” Stevens said.
And potential cancers.
A study from Harvard found a greater risk of breast cancer in women who live in neighborhoods that have higher levels of outdoor light during the night. The higher the light level, the higher the risk.
“There’s a lot of potential breast cancer,” Benal said.
Oncologist Dr. Raimonda Goldman with Holy Name Medical Center said while the study raises some good questions it does not make a definitive link as with other known risk factors such as smoking or alcohol.
“Was the bedroom actually facing the street or the light? Was the woman getting enough sleep? We don’t know the individual environment,” she said.
She also suggested taking preventive steps.
“Close the blinds, make sure you get enough sleep, and it’s dark when you sleep,” she said.
The American Medical Association is now encouraging communities to minimize blue lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible.
If you use LED bulbs in your home, experts recommend dimming them in the evening.