The perils of LED streetlights

Screenshot at 100% SR LED
Close up of a PG&E LED streetlight in Santa Rosa California

 

 

There is a major push all over the country to install LED streetlights based on assumptions of saving energy and money.  In places where the LEDs have been installed there are so many complaints.  On February 16 Sebastopol will consider whether or not to allow PG&E to install the LED streetlights.  PG&E owns the streetlights and requires cities to opt-in to the changeout.

PG&E is currently installing LED streetlights in Santa Rosa, and we took a team to investigate, measure and photograph there.  What we found is, unlike the warm yellow streetlights, the LED’s are very white, with cold blue tones, and painfully bright.

Mary Carvalho who lives in Santa Rosa writes, “Has anyone noticed lately that the night sky is lit up like a full moon every night?”

Paul Marantz, a lighting designer said about the yellow streetlights, “there was a warmth about them that’s missing from the new lights. And because of the way the LEDs are designed, it’s a much more directed light, with more glare.”

When the environment is saturated with blue rich light it causes melatonin reduction which can affect sleep. Harvard Medical School reported blue light has a dark side.  “Light at night is bad for your health, and exposure to blue light emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs may be especially so.”

PG&E LED streetlight
PG&E LED streetlight

Bob Parks, executive director of the International Dark-Sky Association states, “Now, people can certainly close their blinds and block-out that rich blue-white light. The problem is that every other species on the planet can’t do that, so you have an impact on everything else. And not just animals — we are talking plants, trees, right down to one-cell organisms.”- Earth Island Journal

The Department of Energy (DOE) and IEEE reported there are serious health risks from LEDs if inexpensive drivers are used.  DOE writes, “Why is flicker bad? For one thing, in addition to being annoying and distracting, it can cause eyestrain, blurred vision, and impairment of performance on sight-related tasks. And in those who are flicker-sensitive, it can cause debilitating headaches and migraines — 10% of the population is estimated to suffer from migraines, and that’s only one of the groups prone to flicker sensitivity.  According to the IEEE recommended practice, flicker has been reported to contribute to autistic behaviors, and can be a trigger for epileptic seizures.… Some of these problems might occur even when the flicker isn’t detectable by the eye.”

The EMF Safety Network sent a list of questions to PG&E about their LED streetlights. We await their answers.  We can trust PG&E will cut costs and we can’t be certain they will tell the public the truth.  We don’t know whether or not PG&E will be using the streetlights for wireless transmissions, as has been done in Los Angeles and Florida.  The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had a presentation on their website that touted the benefits of “intelligent” wireless streetlights.

Intelligent streetlights

We don’t know if PG&E is installing these, but we do know the rapid increase of microwave technologies deployed on our homes and in our neighborhoods, largely without informed consent, threatens privacy, public health, children, wildlife and nature.

The other risk is whether or not the LED streetlights add unintentional radiation to the power lines, creating “dirty electricity” like PG&E smart meters do.  Samuel Milham, MD and David Stetzer, Electrical Engineer wrote a peer reviewed published paper in 2013.  They wrote, “Dirty electricity, also called electrical pollution, is high-frequency voltage transients riding along the 50 or 60 Hz electricity provided by the electric utilities… has been associated with cancer, diabetes and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in humans.

Some people claim brighter streetlights will help reduce crime. However, Earth Island Journal reported “Public safety was a big motivator behind the Oakland conversion project, and it may seem intuitive that brighter lights improve safety.  However, some studies suggest that though brighter streets make people feel safer, they have no impact on actual crime levels.”

In 2015, PG&E’s claims of LED cost and energy savings were merely assumptions.  In the CPUC 2015 Uncertain List they stated, “market move to LED technology requires verification.”  As yet PG&E has offered no proof.  In addition the city claimed the streetlight conversion would be free, however PG&E intends to recover streetlight costs through customers rate increases. So we all pay for the LED streetlights.

Why should perfectly good streetlights be scrapped for a risky technology whose benefits are questionable? A study published in late 2010 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that LEDs contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other potentially dangerous substances.  While it is possible that the LED’s save energy, it’s not worth the cost to public and environmental health.

In September 2015, the Sebastopol city council had the PG&E streetlight conversion on their consent calendar.  Due to complaints, they took the issue off consent and put it on the regular agenda. At that meeting, Rich Emig, Public Works superintendent, gave a report acknowledging the LED health risks. Public comments included one woman who said when she was a child she had seizures from light flicker. See the Sebastopol City Council’s video which starts at 1:40:00

Considering the city acknowledged the serious pubic health risks, why are they bringing it back to the council, and why have they not notified the public of this issue that will affect each and everyone of us?

More information: 

What LED light pollution looks like from space
http://www.techinsider.io/astonauts-photos-from-space-leds-light-pollution-2016-1

Ecological Light Pollution  http://www.urbanwildlands.org/Resources/LongcoreRich2004.pdf

A Silent Cry for Dark Skies http://astrosociety.org/edu/publications/tnl/74/74.html#3

Residents sue Monterrey over new LED streetlights (2012)
http://www.montereyherald.com/article/ZZ/20120717/news/120718012

Ann Arbor Michigan has been a leader in converting city streetlights to energy-efficient LEDs, but despite a large reduction in energy usage, DTE Energy is proposing rate increases for LED lights, while decreasing rates for conventional high-pressure sodium lights. http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2015/02/ann_arbor_responds_to_streetli.html

Darkness is a requisite part of life.
“Half of your life, half of the lives of all nature, half of all human history has occurred between sunset and sunrise.  We and all of the natural kingdom have evolved in a landscape that segues from a bright blessed day to a dark sacred night.  A dark night is really that–sacred.  Every cell in the human body has time-related functions, part of the bigger circadian system.  I’m referring to science, not some woo-woo feel-good incense-laden chanting mysticism.  Healthy life depends on critical functions for which the absence of light is essential.”

1.  All outdoor lighting shall be full cutoff, or fully shielded.
2.  If LED lights are used, they shall have a correlated color temperature (CCT) less than 3000K.
3.  All lights shall minimize glare, sky glow, and light trespass. —–Excerpt and recommendations from www.Nightwise.org

Video of New York news story on LED street lighting and resident reaction. http://pix11.com/2015/04/27/new-bright-leds-that-replaced-street-lamps-angering-local-residents/

The city of Davis received so many complaints about the LED lights they put the project on hold for a year, then spent $350,000 more money on the project. http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/10/21/davis-will-spend-350000-to-replace-led-lights-after-neighbor-complaints/

Berkeley complaints:  http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/08/06/berkeley-residents-weigh-in-on-new-led-streetlights/

Houston, we’ve got a problem with LEDS.  ​​http://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2016/02/08/136878/city-waiting-for-more-information-on-alternative-led-street-lights-as-some-call-for-change/

Grassroots website about LED streetlight complaints http://lightsickness.com/actions-you-can-take/

Would you stick your head in a microwave oven?

A math teacher from Ireland tells a story about going to a party where after dinner people are having coffee and tea. Several people have their cell phones on the table. The woman seated beside him places her phone close to his plate. In the video he says why he does not like cell phones, and what happens when he moves her phone away from himself.  The table conversation turns ugly.

CPUC President doesn’t want to answer your g*dd*mn questions, now shut up!

President Michael R. PeeveyThe California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is responsible for protecting utility customers and ensuring safe and reliable utility service.

Michael Peevey, the President of the CPUC,  has been in charge of the decisions regarding smart meters.  He approved wireless smart meters without any safety review.  He approved smart meter opt-out fees without any legal review.

Listen to Peevey cussing out an attorney who’s asking questions at a public hearing.

In the news here:  http://www.10news.com/news/cpuc-president-cusses-out-san-diego-attorney-while-cameras-roll-052214

Do you have questions about utility smart meters?  President Peevey can be reached at mp1@cpuc.ca.gov  He doesn’t want to hear from you!

Smart Meters, the Opposite of Green

Common Ground CoverJeromy Johnson of EMFanalysis.com. wrote an excellent article called, “Smart Meters, the Opposite of Green” which was recently published in the SF Bay Area Common Ground magazine.  The article summarizes exactly why smart meters are such a bad idea for our communities. Find the article on his website:  http://www.emfanalysis.com/1/post/2014/04/common-ground-article.html

There will be a special screening of the documentary “Take Back Your Power” on Saturday April 26, at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar Street, Berkeley.  Q&A follows with Jeromy Johnson, film maker Josh del Sol, and Foster and Kimberly Gamble of the movie “Thrive”.  To reserve your free seat visit:  TakeBackYourPower.net 

Major U.S. Utility Says “No Rational Basis” for Mandating Smart Meters

NU Smart Meter CommentsFrom SkyVision Solutions:

Northeast Utilities (NU) operates New England’s largest utility system serving more than 3.6 million electric and natural gas customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

In a written submittal filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, Northeast Utilities was highly critical of a proposed state plan that would require utilization of “advanced metering” or smart meters within the state of Massachusetts as part of an electrical grid modernization plan. In fact, the comments are quite remarkable in that they appear to reflect reality without undue political spin or bias. Let us hope that other utilities, public utility commissions, and politicians everywhere can soon come to similar unbiased conclusions that are based upon economic realities and reflect consumers’ and societal best interests.

 Continue reading →

Will it soon be too late? Cancer expected to increase by 70% in the next 20 years according to WHO

Commentary by Dr. Olle Johansson, translated from Swedish:

DEBATE. The World Health Organization [WHO] has released a bleak future forecast. The number of new cancer cases is expected to increase from 14 million to 25 million per year over the next 20 years – an increase of 70 percent.

“Despite encouraging progress, the report shows that we can not treat ourselves out of the cancer problem,” said Christopher Wild, co- author of the report. But one question lingers for me:  Why does WHO themselves not consider another possible cause of this avalanche, a cause that they themselves have warned about and predicted? Let me explain.

Today, various wireless devices flood our homes, schools and other workplaces. The issues around all of these sources of radiation are numerous. Adults are not at all certain that all this radiation is harmless, they are not at all sure that wireless technology is without risk. To this one can add numerous studies and investigations, expert reports and commentaries arise which in summary say that “there is a strong suspicion of damage.”

These texts also emphasize the need for the use of the Precautionary Principle and this even stronger after the WHO has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields – from mobile phones, tablets , etc. – as possibly carcinogenic (Class 2B). Thus, the idea that these techniques would be safe, we can immediately cross out – not even the WHO believes it – and they still have a category into which such proven safe exposures would fall (Class 4 – proven non-human carcinogen).

The question now is instead what we accept the risk to cost in terms of health care, disability and premature death.

It should be noted that this is an addition to the earlier (2001) WHO 2B cancer classification of power-frequency electromagnetic fields (thus including common household current ) – which are also emitted at high levels from handheld gadgets such as tablet devices (iPad etc.) and mobile phones – as a risk factor specifically for childhood leukemia. Given that in 2001 the WHO was already very close, voting 9 to 11, to move it to 2A (thus the higher cancer class ) and considering all the new knowledge that has accumulated since 2001, I maintain that today one should definitely classify the relationship between childhood leukemia and power-frequency electromagnetic fields in the much more serious 2A (“probably carcinogenic”) category.

Why not debate this?

There was a time when people did not understand that radioactivity from radium, uranium and plutonium, medical x-rays and ultraviolet light actually hurts us and can even kill us. You could see shoe-fitting x-ray machines in childrens’ shoe shops in Sweden as late as the end of the 1940s and elderly people will remember the glowing radioactive wristwatches that were popular in the 1950s. About the same time we began to understand that even the sun’s beautiful and warm rays can damage our cells and their genetic material with the development of skin cancer as a result. Today we warn everyone, even for the weakest of ultraviolet light, which we call UVA, especially if you’re a child with fair skin and light hair.

Against this background one might wonder: Can our cells and molecules that are now suddenly exposed to an environmental exposure from power-frequent magnetic fields, microwaves, radio and TV signals, etc. which have never before existed, or if it has, with an immediate increase of one million million million times stand it at all? The radiation goes right through us, and our – and other organisms’ – cells and molecules have no protection at all against it.

I’m afraid, very afraid, that we will soon have to write a new report titled “Too Late Lessons from Early Warnings” …

Article in pdf format

Olle Johansson is Associate Professor and Assistant Professor in Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. From the original in Swedish published 12 Feb. 2014 by Newsvoice.