It is official: LED lighting is not harmful

Whether LED lighting is harmful or not has been a controversial topic for years. Until recently, existing knowledge on the field has been based on research conducted from 1970 to 2002, but now a European Union committee specialising in emerging health risks has contributed to new research.

»There is no evidence of direct adverse health effects from LEDs emission in normal use by the general healthy population.« This is the conclusion from a new report about potential risks to human health of LEDs conducted by the European Union committee SCHEER. Hereby, the committee invalidates the myth that blue light emitted from LEDs should be harmful to human beings, seeing that previous research has not reflected reality. These previous tests proved that blue light with wavelengths on 400 to 500 nm can be detrimental to the human eye, skin, and circadian rhythm, if one stare into the blue light over an extended period. However, the new report shows that this is not realistic, seeing that previous research has been conducted based on exaggerated exposure to LED lighting.

Is LED screens harmful to our health?

Since the turn of the millennium, the digital evolution has exploded. Today, 8 out of 10 Danes own a smartphone and 87% of the Danish population is online every day. As a consequence, we are exposed to blue light from LED screens on a daily basis.

LED screens from smartphones, tablets, and laptops are reviled for affecting our health negatively, wherefore the committee, in particular, has conducted research into risks associated with the use of LED screens. The committee acknowledges that using smartphones prior to bedtime can disrupt our circadian rhythm. However, it is unclear whether the effect on one’s sleep is due to the blue light from the LED screen or due to the mental activity connected to smartphone usage.

With reference to this, the committee has looked at the usage of virtual reality headsets, in line with their rising popularity. Disorientation and nausea are some of the recurring problems associated with VR goggles and previously, the internal LED screen has been blamed for causing these symptoms. However, the report shows that motion sickness, to a greater extent, was to blame for the symptoms.

Are some individuals more sensitive to LED lighting than others?

Results from the report indicate that healthy individuals are not affected by normal use of LED lighting. However, children, as well as the elderly part of the population, are more sensitive to blue light emitted from LED screens from smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Children are at higher risk of being dazzled by the blue light, which, in some cases, can lead to retinal damage, while elderly people can find LED screens harder to read.

Should we be afraid of LED lighting?

From the report, it can be concluded that the problems mentioned above are exclusively concerned with an exaggerated exposure to blue light from LED screens. They are therefore not caused by other types of LED lighting. Consequently, human beings are not affected by blue light to the same extent as previously presumed. For this reason, you should neither be afraid of LED lighting at home nor LED lighting in public space.