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/

Berkeley WINS Right to Know cell phone labeling law

Photo credit: Environmental Health Trust

The city of Berkeley California was recently sued by the wireless industry CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) over their Cell Phone Right to Know ordinance.  The ordinance requires retailers to warn customers about cell phone risks.  Berkeley’s advisory at point of sale states: “To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

CTIA argued the ordinance would be misleading, give off an impression of harm, and would violate retailers’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to distribute information they might disagree with.

In September U.S. District Court Judge Chen ruled that Berkeley’s law is not a violation of the industry’s first amendment rights, but did tell Berkeley to remove one controversial line about the risk to children, which they did.

Last week’s hearing was to remove the ban, now that the line has been removed, and allow implementation.  Ted Olson, attorney for the CTIA, sent Judge Chen 25 pages of further argument after his original decision. The Judge agreed to allow further argument last week.  Larry Lessig, Harvard Constitutional Law Professor and Robert Post, Dean of Yale Law School are defending Berkeley pro bono.

Yesterday, less than one week after the court hearing,  Judge Chen removed the ban on the Berkeley law despite CTIA’s numerous arguments. Chen also denied the wireless group’s motion to stay his order dissolving the injunction pending appeal.

Maine Supreme Court smart meter ruling ignores evidence of harm

This week the Maine Supreme Court upheld the finding of utility regulators regarding smart meter safety.  The Court supported this difficult to follow position: “It is one thing to make a finding that evidence is credible regarding potential harm and quite another to find there is a legally credible threat of Riskyharm—that a credible threat of harm is in fact credible: likely and probable to result in harm.”  

The court weighed health and safety precautions with utilities bottom line.  “The Commission, therefore, properly rejected Friedman’s approach because it would require an impractically high threshold for ensuring safety, and as a result would render nearly all utilities unsafe.”

The Court upheld this position, even though they knew there is evidence of risk. “The Commission acknowledged that there had been some evidence presented of potential future risk posed generally by RF exposure,…” 

The key to the ruling is what the court calls, “balancing the potential for harm against the usefulness and pervasiveness of the technology at issue.”

This ruling culminates a four year legal battle in Maine over the health and safety effects of smart meters.  Even though the legal burden was on the utility (CMP) to show smart meters were safe, the Court ignored this and placed the burden on the customer to pay to avoid the risk of pulsed radiation smart meters emit.

Marlboro2Ed Friedman stated: “ The Court has miserably failed the people of Maine.  They ignored independent testimony from international experts on the credible threat of harm RF exposures at smart meter levels pose, and instead chose to believe the “Marlboro Man” that smoking is good for us.”

Maine Supreme court ruling: http://www.mainecoalitiontostopsmartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2016-ME-19-Friedman-Appeal-Decision-1-26-16.pdf

Captured agency: An expose of the FCC

Norm AlsterInvestigative journalist Norm Alster exposes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a new 59 page paper published by Harvard University.  “Captured agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is dominated by the industries it presumably regulates.”  http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured

Alster calls on the FCC to acknowledge there may be wireless health risks, to back off wi-fi promotion, to acknowledge children and pregnant women may be more vulnerable and more.  Excerpts:

Perhaps the best example of how the FCC is tangled in a chain of corruption is the cell tower and antenna infrastructure that lies at the heart of the phenomenally successful wireless industry.

Personally, I don‘t believe that just because something can be done it should heedlessly be allowed. Murder, rape and Ponzi schemes are all doable but subject to prohibition and regulation. Government regulators have the responsibility to examine the consequences of new technologies and act to at least contain some of the worst. Beyond legislators and regulators, public outrage and the courts can also play a role but these can be muffled indefinitely by misinformation and bullying.  Norm Alster

Reduce EMF’s in public transit says federal disability advisory group

The National Council on Disability Transportation Report addresses chemical and electrical sensitivities and recommends changes in policies and practices to improve access: http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2015/05042015/

This is news you can use!  You can take this to bus, train and airplane companies and ask for accommodation.

“People disabled by environmental barriers experience debilitating reactions from very low-level exposures to chemicals or electromagnetic fields.” p. 207

(Department of Justice) “DOJ should develop standards and guidance on the access requirements for people with chemical and electrical sensitivities.” p. 351

“Transit agencies should eliminate environmental barriers to the greatest extent possible by using nontoxic, fragrance-free products and practices, and by avoiding all nonessential chemical and electromagnetic exposures to enhance access for people with chemical or electrical sensitivities.” p. 351

The National Council on Disability is a federal agency who advises the President, Congress and federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities. This video explains more about their work.

Berkeley passes cell phone ordinance!

Not on your body, not in your pants!

Photo credit: Environmental Health TrustThe City of Berkeley passed a “right to know” ordinance on Tuesday.  Cell phones sold in Berkeley will come with a safety warning:

To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.

Photo credit to Environmental Health Trust.  For more info and updates go to: http://bit.ly/berkeleycellordinance

Structure Report: Smart meter conflict of interest and cover up

www.briannarelle.com

Emails between utility giant PG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) expose conflict of interest and cover up of skyrocketing smart meter bills.  The consultant the CPUC hired in 2010 to investigate the complaints, Structure, had worked for PG&E for the previous five years, and was not “independent” (as claimed in CPUC and PG&E’s misrepresentations).  CPUC President Peevey knew the results of Structure’s investigation long before it was complete, and shared that information with PG&E.  CPUC’s Peevey was aware smart meters were overcharging through personal experience.

The coordinated propaganda campaign between the CPUC, PG&E and marketing firms that resulted in the smart meter deployment couldn’t tolerate news such as the fact that 500,000 smart meters were at risk for overcharging in hot weather.  Peevey’s own bill doubled when a smart meter was installed on his vacation home, causing  him to joke about making The Sea Ranch a smart meter free zone.

The CPUC and PG&E used the Structure report to cover up smart meter problems, and to defend the deployment at the customers’ expense.  These emails suggest that returning to the tried and true analog meters is a viable remedy to avoid future skyrocketing utility costs, and that observant meter readers are a cost-effective way to ensure public and environmental safety.

READ MORE:  http://emfsafetynetwork.org/smart-meters/structure-report-smart-meter-conflict-of-interest-and-cover-up/

Use a cell phone? Must Watch Film: Mobilize

MOBILIZE is an explosive investigative documentary that explores the potential long-term health effects from cell phone radiation, including brain cancer and infertility.
In 2011 the World Health Organization stated, “The electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The cell phone industry has vigorously disputed these findings.

This thought-provoking film examines the most recent scientific research and the harsh challenges politicians face trying to pass precautionary legislation. Featuring interviews with expert researchers, mobile phone industry representatives, and prominent politicians, MOBILIZE illuminates how industry’s economic and political influence can corrupt public health.