Health Risks of High-Power LED Lights

Written by christie gross
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Health Risks of High-Power LED Lights
Although energy-efficient LED lights are replacing conventional light bulbs, not all LED light bulbs provide the same benefits. (light bulb image by Zbigniew Nowak from

A conventional incandescent light bulb usually lasts about 12 months compared to a high-power LED (light emitting diode), which lasts about 10 years, or 50,000 hours, according to LED Revolution, a LED retailer. Furthermore, LED lights use less energy and are available in warm and cool white colours to match traditional indoor lighting applications. In spite of advancements made to improve high-power LED lights, these lights pose some health risks.

Eye Damage

Exposure to white and blue high-power LEDs can cause permanent damage to your eyes, according to a 2010 Macular Degeneration report on When an individual stares at a high-power LED light, it's so intense that it penetrates the retina--the light sensitive area of the eye--and may cause damage.

Whether or not an individual is impacted by a high-power LED light depends on brightness, light exposure and distance between the individual and light source. The report concluded that an individual with prolonged, direct exposure to a blue or white high-power LED light who is also in close proximity to the light source can suffer eye damage. Blue and white high-power LED lights are designed to brighten a large space, such as a stage or set.


High-power LED lights used to illuminate traffic signals may contain a material known as Aluminum Gallium Arsenide. The material is used to produce red and yellow coloured lights. Dust from this material is hazardous to the eyes, skin and lungs, which people come in contact with when the light is manufactured, used and replaced, according to the Responsible Purchasing Network in its report, LED Exit Signs, Street Lights, and Traffic Signs. Although the material is no longer used to produce new LED lights, older high-power LED lights made for traffic signals may still contain it.

Traffic Accidents

A high-power LED light does not produce enough heat to melt heavy, wet snow that sometimes covers traffics signals during snow storms and blocks the indicator. As a result, drivers cannot see the traffic signal, which puts them and their passengers at risk when trying to safely navigate an intersection. Therefore, high-power LED lights used for traffic signals pose a potential safety and health hazard during extreme weather conditions.

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