SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — As cities look to cut their energy costs they’re increasingly turning to the use of LED bulbs for street lights, despite increased concern that the “blue light” some LEDs omit can be bad for your sleep, lead to decreased visibility on roads and increase obesity.
“Blue light” can also disrupt the nocturnal habits of animals.
“We started looking very carefully at how different qualities of light changed everything from the physiology of the animals, to their senses, behaviors, and it turns out that the naturally lit environment is a very delicate thing, and when it’s changed, essentially, you’re reducing the habitat,” James Fischer, Executive Director of the Zoological Lighting Institute said.
Fischer says that changing the lighting can change the diversity of the animals exposed to it.
“Animals are really a product of their environment, and that environment is naturally very diverse, especially with lighting. If you think of conditions from starlight, and rain, all the way through full moons, and half-moons, and all of that, if you think of that, it’s a very complicated system, it’s a very complicated environment; when you light that by adding artificial light in – any kind of streetlight, or porchlight, or anything like that – what it does is actually reduces all that complexity,” Fischer said.
For the animals that come out at night, Fischer says the new LEDs change everything.
“The problem is that bright light — that light does exactly what it promises, in that it makes it more akin to daylight when you go out, and that means all of the animals, and that means every animal actually, that occupies the night, couldn’t do it the way it normally would,” Fischer said.
Fischer says the lights don’t affect every animal in the same way, and that that is part of the problem.