NEMA Debunks Medical Association Lighting Report

NEMA Debunks Medical Association Lighting Report

This piece was originally published in the February 2017 issue of electroindustry.

The NEMA Lighting Systems Division is currently in the process of revising LSD 55 Outdoor Lighting and Human/Animal Factors: An Industry Opinion. This white paper includes, in part, a response to the recent American Medical Association (AMA) report, “Human and Environmental Effects of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Community Lighting.”

The AMA report encourages minimizing blue light and recommends the use of outdoor lighting below the 3000 K level (representing a low color temperature) due to concerns about effects on circadian rhythm. NEMA’s document points out that the effects on the day/night cycle in humans and animals are scientifically complex and are not yet fully understood by the scientific community.

NEMA’s document opines that “technical recommendations that have the potential to impact lighting products, emerging technologies, outdoor lighting design and architectural practices, lighting codes, and legislation must be based on expert consensus and sound science after full scientific discourse and peer review.”

NEMA LSD 55 indicates that an argument can also be made to use only higher color temperatures (>4000 K) in outdoor lighting for important public policy reasons. This is because the use of high color temperature sources can improve human reaction time at night and improve energy efficiency, safety, and security.

NEMA Lighting Systems Division members do not believe that enough data presently exists to recommend that outdoor lighting systems be restricted to a limited range of (correlated color temperature. A one-size-fits-all recommendation is not an appropriate solution for all lighting applications and is not supported by the current body of research.


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