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/

Dr. Martin Pall: EMF’s are the major cause of autism

Dr. Martin Pall states EMF’s are the major cause of autism.  In addition, chemicals and EMF’s combined produce autism.  In this lecture he presents the scientific evidence. Dr. Pall is a professor emeritus of biochemistry and basic medical sciences at Washington State University.

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

Study links cell phones to addiction

http://www.baylor.edu/content/imglib/1/8/8/7/188769.jpgCollege students spend an average of 8 hours or more a day on their cellphones and women spend the most time, up to ten hours a day.  Excessive use poses potential risks for academic performance, according to a Baylor University study on cellphone activity published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.

The study notes that approximately 60 percent of college students admit they may be addicted to their cell phone, and some indicated they get agitated when it is not in sight, said Roberts, lead author of the article “The Invisible Addiction: Cellphone Activities and Addiction among Male and Female College Students.”

“That’s astounding,” said researcher James Roberts, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing in Baylor’s School of Business. “As cellphone functions increase, addictions to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology become an increasingly realistic possibility.”

General findings of the study showed that:

• Of the top activities, respondents overall reported spending the most time texting (an average of 94.6 minutes a day), followed by sending emails (48.5 minutes), checking Facebook (38.6 minutes), surfing the Internet (34.4 minutes) and listening to their iPods. (26.9 minutes).

• Men send about the same number of emails but spend less time on each. “That may suggest that they’re sending shorter, more utilitarian messages than their female counterparts,” Roberts said.

• Women spend more time on their cellphones. While that finding runs somewhat contrary to the traditional view that men are more invested in technology, “women may be more inclined to use cellphones for social reasons such as texting or emails to build relationships and have deeper conversations.”

• The men in the study, while more occupied with using their cellphones for utilitarian or entertainment purposes, “are not immune to the allure of social media,” Roberts said. They spent time visiting such social networking sites as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Among reasons they used Twitter were to follow sports figures, catch up on the news — “or, as one male student explained it, ‘waste time,’” Roberts said.

Excessive use of cellphones poses a number of possible risks for students, he said.

“Cellphones may wind up being an escape mechanism from their classrooms. For some, cellphones in class may provide a way to cheat,” Roberts said.

Excessive or obsessive cellphone use also can cause conflict inside and outside the classroom: with professors, employers and families. And “some people use a cellphone to dodge an awkward situation. They may pretend to take a call, send a text or check their phones,” Roberts said.

Roberts noted that the current survey is more extensive than previous research in measuring the number and types of cellphone activities. It also is the first to investigate which activities are associated significantly with cellphone addictions and which are not.

Study participants were asked to respond to 11 statements such as “I get agitated when my cellphone is not in sight” and “I find that I am spending more and more time on my cellphone” to measure the intensity of their addiction.

The study noted that modern cellphone use is a paradox in that it can be “both freeing and enslaving at the same time.”

“We need to identify the activities that push cellphone use from being a helpful tool to one that undermines our well-being and that of others,” Roberts said.

Baylor University did a previous where they reported “Cell phone and instant messaging addictions are driven by materialism and impulsiveness and can be compared to consumption pathologies like compulsive buying and credit card misuse, according to a Baylor University study in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.”

“Cell phones are a part of our consumer culture,” said study author James Roberts, Ph.D., professor of marketing and the Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. “They are not just a consumer tool, but are used as a status symbol. They’re also eroding our personal relationships.”

To read the complete study follow this link: http://www.akademiai.com/content/q41011j715q26n7h/

 

Cell phones linked to anxiety, lower grades, and unhappiness

KentAlmost everywhere you look  someone has a cell phone pressed to their ear, or has one in their hand.  Students depend on the devices to connect with friends and family.

A recent study led by Kent State University researchers, surveyed more than 500 undergraduate students from 82 different majors. They recorded daily cell phone use along with anxiety and happiness levels.  In addition student grades were included in the study.

Results were students who used their cell phones more had lower grades, higher anxiety, and less happiness relative to their peers who used the cell phone less. 

Earlier this year, Kent researchers linked cell phone use to poor student fitness. These results suggest that people should be encouraged to reduce their cell phone use! Or, better yet, use them for emergencies only!

Safety tips for cell and cordless phone use: Learn more

Dr. Mercola’s comments on this study include raising awareness about second hand radiation effects.

Dr. Mercola writes: “Respect Others Who Are More Sensitive: Some people who have become sensitive can feel the effects of others’ cell phones, iPads, and other gadgets in the same room, even when it is on but not being used. If you are in a meeting, on public transportation, in a courtroom or other public places, such as a doctor’s office, keep your cell phone turned off out of consideration for the “secondhand radiation” effects. Children are also more vulnerable, so please avoid using your cell phone near children.”

Students demonstrate wireless hazards at Science Faire

Two young scientists researched and studied wireless health risks for science fair projects. One student was interested in the controversy surrounding wi-fi and whether it should be in schools or not. She found fruit flies exposed to industrial wi-fi had genome mutations. Another student researched mobile phone radiation and warns about brain cancer, insomnia and other health problems.

In May of 2013 a team of Danish 9th grade girls did a science study on wi-fi and found watercress seeds would not grow near a wi-fi router.

The students placed six trays filled with water cress in a room without radiation, and six trays in another room next to two wi-fi routers. Over the next 12 days, the girls observed, measured, weighed and photographed their results. The cress seeds placed near the routers had not grown, whereas the cress seeds in the other room, away from the routers, thrived.

watercress_wifi studyThe experiment earned the girls top honors in a regional science competition and the interest of scientists around the world. Full story here: Student Science Experiment Finds Plants won’t Grow near Wi-Fi Router

Harvard doctor warns against wireless hazards

The following is a letter sent to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) from Martha R. Herbert, PhD, MD regarding wireless installations in LA schools.

TO: Los Angeles Unified School District
FROM: Martha R Herbert, PhD, MD
RE: Wireless vs. Wired in Classrooms
DATE: February 8, 2013
 

I am a pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and on staff at the Massachusetts General Hospital. I am Board Certified in Neurology with Special Competency in Child Neurology, and Subspecialty Certification in Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

I have an extensive history of research and clinical practice in neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly autism spectrum disorders. I have published papers in brain imaging research, in physiological abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders, and in environmental influences on neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and on brain development and function.

I recently accepted an invitation to review literature pertinent to a potential link between Autism Spectrum Disorders and Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMF) and Radiofrequency Radiation (RFR). I set out to write a paper of modest length, but found much more literature than I had anticipated to review. I ended up producing a 60 page single spaced paper with over 550 citations. It is available at http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/sec20_2012_Findings_in_Autism.pdf.

In fact, there are thousands of papers that have accumulated over decades – and are now accumulating at an accelerating pace, as our ability to measure impacts become more sensitive – that document adverse health and neurological impacts of EMF/RFR. Children are more vulnerable than adults, and children with chronic illnesses and/or neurodevelopmental disabilities are even more vulnerable. Elderly or chronically ill adults are more vulnerable than healthy adults.

Current technologies were designed and promulgated without taking account of biological impacts other than thermal impacts. We now know that there are a large array of impacts that have nothing to do with the heating of tissue. The claim from wifi proponents that the only concern is thermal impacts is now definitively outdated scientifically.

EMF/RFR from wifi and cell towers can exert a disorganizing effect on the ability to learn and remember, and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic function. This will make it harder for some children to learn, particularly those who are already having problems in the first place.

Powerful industrial entities have a vested interest in leading the public to believe that EMF/RFR, which we cannot see, taste or touch, is harmless, but this is not true. Please do the right and precautionary thing for our children.

I urge you to step back from your intention to go wifi in the LAUSD, and instead opt for wired technologies, particularly for those subpopulations that are most sensitive. It will be easier for you to make a healthier decision now than to undo a misguided decision later.

Thank you.

Martha Herbert, PhD, MD
Pediatric Neurology
Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts
USA
 

Click here for Dr. Herbert’s letter:Harvard MD on Wi-Fi Health Effects