Public Safety Committee to Consider Pilot Installation of LED Street Lights on Hill Avenue

Published : Monday, July 17, 2017 | 5:35 AM

An example of before/after installation the proposed LED lighting.

The Public Safety Committee of the Pasadena City Council will be deliberating on a proposal to install Cobra Head luminaires street lighting using LED lamps (Light Emitting Diode) as a pilot system on Hill Avenue in Pasadena, as the City continues to evaluate whether this kind of lighting should eventually replace conventional lighting system on Pasadena’s streets.

At its meeting on Wednesday, July 19, the Committee will be briefed on several studies made about both the cost-saving features of LED lighting as opposed to conventional lighting, as well as about health concerns associated with LED illumination.

Although the American Medical Association (AMA) agrees that converting conventional street light to LED lighting leads to cost and energy savings and a lower reliance on fossil-based fuels, the group adopted guidance in June 2016 to reduce harmful effects from high-intensity LED street lights.

Among other things, the AMA guidance said the group encourages minimizing and controlling blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare. It also specifically encourages the use of 3000K or lower lighting (K for Kelvin, the unit for measuring color temperature in lighting) for outdoor installations such as roadways.

The guidance also said all LED lighting should be properly shielded to minimize glare and detrimental human and environmental effects, and that dimming off LED lighting during off-peak periods should be considered.

AMA also states that LED lighting, when too bright, has the ability to decrease visual acuity and safety, creating a road hazard. Bright LED lighting also operates at a wavelength that suppresses melatonin during the night, impacting sleep cycles, and is estimated to contribute to dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and obesity. It is also disruptive to animal species needing dark environments, disorienting birds, insects, turtles and fish species, according to the AMA guidance.

On the other hand, another body, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), which is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standards Development Organization for lighting engineering, while aligning with AMA on the cost-saving and energy-conserving features of LED lighting, does not support the use of the lowest possible emission of blue light to reduce glare, and AMA’s guidance on limiting LED lighting to 3000K for outdoor installations, including roadways.

A policy statement by the IES in this regard said a more comprehensive analysis of the
public health impacts of outdoor and roadway lighting “should be considered prior to adopting policies that could have a negative effect on the safety of drivers and pedestrians.”

As the City considers the pilot installation of LED lighting on Hill Avenue, it appears the City will not be purchasing or installing high-intensity LED lighting, and will continue to use IES recommended practice for roadway lighting.

The City also acknowledged that many of the research on the health impact of LED lighting pertains mostly to mobile devices, as in vehicle headlights or signal lights, and does not reflect much information about street-based community lighting.

For the full agenda, please click here.

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