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An appraisal of the effects on human health and the environment of LEDs by the authors of the report of the French health agency ANSES published in 2019.
Correspondence: An appraisal of the
effects on human health and the envi-
ronment of using light-emitting diodes
In May 2019, a collective appraisal report of
the effects on human health and the environ-
ment of systems using light-emitting diodes
(LEDs) was published by ANSES, the French
Agency for Food, Environmental and
Occupational Health and Safety. Here, the
experts involved in this work provide an
overview of their conclusions and
We first confirmed the retinal phototoxi-
city of an acute exposure to blue light in
humans and to high correlated colour tem-
perature (CCT) white light in animal models.
This is the well-known blue light hazard.
Concerning cumulative exposure, epidemio-
logical studies have shown that there is a
long-term contribution of blue light to the
occurrence of age-related macular degener-
ation. Since cold-white LEDs emit more blue
light than lower CCT light sources, they have
a stronger impact. We underlined the need to
update the retinal exposure limits for blue
light and pay particular attention to children,
whose ocular tissues transmit more blue light
than adult tissues.
Measurements were performed on LED
devices including lamps, automotive head-
lights, electronic displays, flashlights and
toys. Some of the tested LED light sources
were associated with higher exposure levels to
blue light than those associated with older
lighting technologies. This was the case of
LED-based low-beam automotive headlights
which were shown to significantly increase the
exposure of children to the retinal blue light
hazard. We have recommended adapting the
regulatory framework to include the photo-
biological safety of automotive lighting.
Detailed spectral and temporal profiles of
retinal exposure were computed based on
realistic annual schedules of exposure to
artificial light and daylight. The contribution
of artificial light sources is not negligible
compared to daylight, even when considering
different climates and different times spent
outdoors. Over a year, artificial light can
represent up to 30% of the retinal exposure
dose in the spectral range of the blue light
We have concluded that the disruption of
circadian rhythms induced by exposure to
artificial light in the evening or at night is
established. Children and adolescents consti-
tute a particularly sensitive population. LED-
based displays are the first contributors to the
retinal exposure dose received in the blue part
of the spectrum during the evening and at
night. Their growing use has an impact on
sleep quality by inducing or maintaining
unhealthy sleep habits. Circadian disruption
has also been associated with many patholo-
gies such as depression, cardiovascular dis-
ease, metabolic conditions, cancer and sleep
Regarding temporal light modulation
(TLM), we confirmed the occurrence of
undesired visual effects (flicker, stroboscopic
effect and phantom array effect) with LED
devices. The relationship between TLM and
migraines or headaches was found to be
possible, deserving further research.
Populations sensitive to TLM include chil-
dren, adolescents and young adults. Since
almost half of the tested LED lamps and
luminaires had a higher level of TLM than
halogen and discharge lamps using electronic
Lighting Res. Technol. 2019; 51: 1275–1276
ßThe Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers 2019 10.1177/1477153519891878
ballasts, we have recommended the introduc-
tion of mandatory TLM limits in future
Replacing current outdoor lighting and
displays by LED technologies can reduce
light pollution, but only in the case of well-
designed street and road lighting. Overall, the
transition to LEDs is responsible for an
increase of light pollution in numerous other
cases (increasing number of luminous adver-
tisements, brighter commercial lighting,
innovative agricultural lighting, etc.). Using
LEDs, artificial light at night may be favour-
able to a few species but remains toxic to a
vast majority, with direct and indirect effects
on both nocturnal and diurnal species in a
given biotope. An increase in mortality and
decline in biodiversity has been largely
observed for animals and plants.
The ANSES report (458 pages) is avail-
able through the ANSES website (in
AP2014SA0253Ra.pdf), together with tech-
nical appendices (
system/files/AP2014SA0253Ra-Anx.pdf) and
the official ANSES opinion (24 pages), is
available in French and English at https://
Christophe Martinsons, PhD,
Centre Scientifique et Technique du Ba
Saint Martin d’He
`res, France
Dina Attia, PhD, French Agency for Food,
Environmental and Occupational Health &
Safety, Maisons-Alfort, France
Francine Behar-Cohen, MD, PhD, Centre de
Recherche des Cordeliers, Inserm and
´de Paris, Paris, France
Samuel Carre
´, PhD, Centre Scientifique et
Technique du Ba
˜timent, Nantes, France
Olivier Enouf, Ing., Laboratoire National de
´trologie et d’Essais, Trappes, France
Jack Falco
´n, PhD, Muse
´um National
d’Histoire Naturelle and CNRS, Paris, France
Claude Gronfier, PhD, Lyon Neuroscience
Research Center, Inserm, CNRS and
´Claude Bernard, Lyon, France
David Hicks, PhD, Institut des Neurosciences
Cellulaires et Inte
´gratives, Inserm, CNRS and
´de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
Arnaud Metlaine, MD, PhD, Universite
de Paris, Paris, France
Leena Tahkamo, PhD, Aalto University,
Espoo, Finland
Alicia Torriglia, MD, PhD, Centre de
Recherche des Cordeliers, Inserm and
´de Paris, Paris, France and
Franc¸ oise Vie
´not, PhD, Muse
´um National
d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France
Address for correspondence: Christophe
Martinsons, Centre Scientifique et Technique
du Ba
ˆtiment, Saint Martin d’He
`res, France.
1276 C Martinsons et al.
Lighting Res. Technol. 2019; 51: 1275–1276
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