We all say that we like streets to be brightly lit for greater driving safety at night. In the past few years many cities, including Sacramento and Davis, rushed to install LED street lamps.
The new-era lamps were brighter, they reduced energy costs, and they lasted longer than their predecessors - about 15 to 20 years, instead of two to five, like the old sodium lights. Many people like that the new LEDs spread illumination more evenly.
Sounds like a win-win-win-win, right?
Wrong. An American Medical Association report warns that high-intensity LED streetlights emit blue light radiation. We can't see this radiation, but it affects us, doctors say. It disrupts our sleep rhythms and - get this - affects our overall health in profound ways. It is even linked to increasing cancer and heart disease in communities that use this lighting.
Drivers complain that the brightness at times can be blinding. There is additional evidence that blue light LEDs make nighttime driving worse for some people. Young people with sleep problems seem especially affected by these lights outside their homes.
The LED lights have played a role in several personal injury cases nationwide -- drivers not seeing pedestrians or bicycles, or not seeing other vehicles lit up by the new light source.