The Truth About LEDs: Light Emitting Diodes

The EPA EnergyStar program warns that:
“not all LEDs are created equal.” Buyer Beware!

Q: Aren’t all LED lights highly efficient and long lasting?

A: After less than one year of use, a poorly designed LED product can flicker, shift in color, look dim, offer uneven light, or continue to use power when turned off, among other problems. Bad design can lead to a wide range of problems, some immediately observable and some not. Poorly designed products often come with exaggerated claims while failing to deliver on the quality advertised.

Reference: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=lighting.pr_what_are#all_equal

The Unknown Negative Impact of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs):

LEDs are touted as the “next generation of lighting”, but as we try to find better products that do not deplete energy resources or contribute to global warming, we have to be vigilant about the toxicity hazards of those marketed and pushed as replacements. A new study from the University of California Irvine indicates that LED lights contain toxic metals such as arsenic, lead, nickel, chromium and many more. Under Environmental regulations in the State of California, most LEDs would be classified as TOXIC WASTE. We have seen the effects of CFLs on the environment, so why continue to pollute our earth even further with yet another toxic product before all the research has been done?

Some Truth About LEDs

  • Some LEDs/CFLs can possibly cause permanent damage to your retina due to higher blue light levels–The Blue Light Hazard. Other side effects might also include possible suppression of Melatonin which leads to REM sleep issues and other diseases.
  • They are an extremely expensive light with too many issues to justify the cost.
  • LEDs are controlled by a chip and many of these chips are failing in as little as two years.
  • Not enough research has gone into these products yet, so essentially the consumer is the test dummy.
  • LED operation is highly sensitive to heat – if LEDs overheat their life and light output plummets rapidly.
  • In order to meet increased demand, many LED manufacturers are not adhering to compliant quality control guidelines, thereby having an adverse effect on lamp performance.

The following excerpts from articles and
research on LEDs explain further…

UC Irvine Today

(Read entire article)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

LED products billed as eco-friendly contain toxic metals, study finds

Those light-emitting diodes marketed as safe, environmentally preferable alternatives to traditional light bulbs actually contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other potentially hazardous substances, according to newly published research.

“LEDs are touted as the next generation of lighting. But as we try to find better products that do not deplete energy resources or contribute to global warming, we have to be vigilant about the toxicity hazards of those marketed as replacements,” said Oladele Ogunseitan, chair of UC Irvine’s Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention…

… He cites LEDs as a perfect example of the need to mandate product replacement testing. The diodes are widely hailed as safer than compact fluorescent bulbs, which contain dangerous mercury. But, he said, they weren’t properly tested for potential environmental health impacts before being marketed as the preferred alternative to inefficient incandescent bulbs, now being phased out under California law. A long-planned state regulation originally set to take effect Jan. 1 would have required advance testing of such replacement products. But it was opposed by industry groups, a less stringent version was substituted, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger placed the law on hold days before he left office.

“I’m frustrated, but the work continues,” said Ogunseitan, a member of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Green Ribbon Science Panel. He said makers of LEDs and other items could easily reduce chemical concentrations or redesign them with truly safer materials. “Every day we don’t have a law that says you cannot replace an unsafe product with another unsafe product, we’re putting people’s lives at risk,” he said. “And it’s a preventable risk.”


Ensuring the next generation of LED Lighting is safe

(Read entire article)

Retinal Hazard Limits

There are several effects that can prove hazardous to the retina within the eye including:

Photothermal Limit: This represents the maximum allowable heating power of the light beam;

Photochemical Limit: This represents the chemical energy of the light beam;

Blue Light Hazard: Long term exposure to blue light is hazardous and a possible cause for Macular Degeneration.

One or more of these hazards are usually referred to within all relevant safety standards.

Unfortunately, the development of standards is nowhere near the pace of LEDs and it may take several years for standards to fully catch up with the technology. Therefore, it is advisable that all lighting manufacturers assess their LED products and provide clear notification of their classification (which ever standard is used) to all.


Light and human health: LED risks highlighted

(Read entire article)

15 Nov 2010

Issues relating to the effects on health and well-being of artificial light are discussed in three recent publications; including one that says the blue-light component in white LEDs causes toxic stress to the retina.

It is now accepted that artificial night-time lighting has various effects on humans (not to mention wildlife) and that exposure to optical radiation affects human physiology and behavior, both directly and indirectly. Many areas are not well understood, and a position statement from the Illumination Engineering Society (IES) emphasizes mainly the need for further research. At the other end of the scale, a French government report emphasizes the risks of LED lighting and makes various recommendations.

ANSES, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, has published a report entitled (in English): ” Lighting systems using light-emitting diodes: health issues to be considered,” which focuses squarely on potential problems caused by LED lighting. The full report is available in French only, but the report summary (in English) says that risks have been identified concerning the use of certain LED lamps, raising potential health concerns for the general population and professionals. “The issues of most concern identified by the Agency concern the eye due to the toxic effect of blue light and the risk of glare,” says the report, adding that the blue light necessary to obtain white LEDs causes “toxic stress” to the retina.

Blue light causes a photochemical risk to the eye, says the report, the level of which depends on the accumulated dose of blue light to which the person has been exposed, which is generally the result of low-intensity exposure repeated over long periods. “Blue light is…recognized as being harmful and dangerous for the retina, as a result of cellular oxidative stress,” says the report, adding that 3 groups are particularly at risk; children, populations which are already light-sensitive, and workers likely to be exposed to high-intensity lighting.

The other main risk is from glare. The report say that, for indoor lighting, it is generally agreed that luminance higher than 10,000 cd/m² causes visual discomfort whatever the position of the lighting unit in the field of vision. Because the emission surfaces of LEDs are highly-concentrated point sources, the luminance of each individual source can be 1000 times higher than the discomfort level. The level of direct radiation from this type of source can therefore easily exceed the level of visual discomfort. Other risks related to the use of LED lighting systems have also been raised, but further study is required.


Summary
The Truth About LEDs: Light Emitting Diodes
Article Name
The Truth About LEDs: Light Emitting Diodes
Description
Q: Aren't all LED lights highly efficient and long lasting? A: After less than one year of use, a poorly designed LED product can flicker, shift in color, look dim, offer uneven light, or continue to use power when turned off, among other problems. Bad design can lead to a wide range of problems, some immediately observable and some not. Poorly designed products often come with exaggerated claims while failing to deliver on the quality advertised.
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