LED lights are becoming very popular in a wide range of industries and products. They have very long lifespans compared to other lighting sources and are being created in an increasingly wide range of colours and patterns. They use very little energy and can be incorporated in most modern devices. However, LED lights also pose several distinct dangers, and in some ways they are more hazardous than the incandescent and fluorescent lights they are replacing.
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LED stands for light-emitting diode. A diode is a small electrical device, a type of resistor that helps regulate the flow of electrical current in circuits. However, if a diode is doped with the right compounds, it radiates some of the electrical energy as visible light. How much light and what colour of light that the LED emits depends on what substances are used to create it.
Blue LEDs were made after red and green LEDs had already been discovered. To make blue LED light, manufacturers had to use different compounds and produce the diodes in different ways. Blue light has a very long wavelength and appears much brighter to the human eye than other colours. This brightness can be distracting, even blinding, especially at night, creating a sometimes dangerous distraction.
In addition to the blindness LED lights can induce, they can also cause significant pain in some people and further damage the eyes of those who already suffer from corneal damage. The eye responds easily to bright LED light, especially the blue light, and the cells in the eye can quickly grow tired from the process. This can create pain, eyestrain and migraines.
LED screens and lights that use blue LEDs can also interfere with sleep cycles. The human body tends to sense LED blue light as a more natural light, and reduces melatonin production in its presence. Melatonin controls the sleep cycles of people, and when disrupted for long periods it can create sleep disorders.
Other Types of Radiation
LED lights do not only produce visible light. Some are designed to produce infrared light or ultraviolet light, beyond our range of sight. These lights can be dangerous, too. Infrared light is heat and can sometimes damage nearby electronics. Ultraviolet light can damage the skin and eyes, and ultraviolet LEDs are typically used only for medical or scientific procedures.
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