The advantage of each invention of humankind is numerous. But the law of nature is to get something; you need to sacrifice others. Does this apply to LED lights? Are we trading our health to enjoy the benefits of LED lights? These are things we are started to hear about LED lights usage.
1. Can LED lights to cause cancer?
2. Cancer-Causing Agents and Incandescent Bulbs
3. Fluorescent Bulbs in relation to cancer
4. Lights, the Environment, and Cancer
5. Are LED lights harmful to your skin?
6. Can Blue Light Harm People?
7. Why do LED lights cause cancer?
8. Is it safe to use LED lighting?
9. How to Avoid cancer?
The many reports and researchers are claiming that we are reaping the benefits for the LED at the cost of health. The scary thing is there is some link between the LED and cancer, especially the blue light emitting from the LED seems to be the primary source for this. But how accurate this information? Well, today, let us find the answer to all these questions.
Can LED lights cause cancer?
With the invention of LED lights, we have let a sigh of relief. The reason was numerous. We thought the light, which is a perfect combination of safety and efficiency, is now available. The pleasure of getting rid of the toxic mercury element available in the CFL and its inefficiency and short lifespan now seems diminishing.
The discussion of this topic is going on with full swing. And now it the researchers are concluding that the LED lights also come with its dark side. The link between the blue light emitting from the LED lights and cancers is strong. The study conducted by Britain’s Exeter University is claiming that the “blue light” of LED streetlights have the potential of causing prostate and breast cancer. Not only this, another reputed institute, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health or popularly known as IsGlobal, also saying the night exposure to blue LED lights can cause breast and prostate cancer. The Global conducted the study through the questionnaires to the people exposed to the night light for a longer duration. All the significant studies emphasize that streetlights and other advertising and commercial hoarding lights are the dangerous elements of LED lights.
When it comes to the LED lights‘ impact in outdoor lighting, exposure levels of LED lights such as streetlight effects were evaluated in two cities. The study was conducted in Madrid and Barcelona, and it was based on the nocturnal pictures captured by astronauts aboard the ISS (International Space Station). It is not a small survey, including just10 to 100 people. In this extensive study, the epidemiological and medical data was collected from over 4,000 people in the Spanish region. Out of these 4,000 people, all age ranges were covered from 20 years to 80 years from 11 regions of Spain.
The results are indeed alarming for all of us. The results obtained from these two cities displayed that those exposed to the greater level of blue light have the risk of getting breast and prostate cancer up to 2 times more than those who have less exposure.
Additionally, the IARC – International Agency for Research on Cancer, a body of the World Health Organization, also concluded that nightshift jobs as probably carcinogenic to people. There is strong evidence pointing the link between the artificial light exposure at night and disruption to human’s circadian rhythm and cancers related to breast and prostate.
Cancer-Causing Agents and Incandescent Bulbs
The energy-saving bulbs are now causing cancer and other related issues for humans. This phenomenon was discovered a decade ago. Scientists said one should not expose themselves under any LED lights for a continuous and more prolonged period. Most importantly, people should avoid sitting or work near the lights since the head’s exposure too close to those lights is harmful since the energy-saving lamps contain poisonous chemicals.
The experts are advised not to keep any energy-saving lights near the infants and children. The reason is they take less time to penetrate the body of an infant compared to an adult. But adults are not also free from these hazards. The prolonged engagement under these lights may cause serious health issues because of the chemical they contain.
Of course, the incandescent bulbs are not one of those energy-saving bulbs. Instead, they come with their own set of health hazards. A bulb incandescent is not a harmful one because it is free from mercury and other such elements. But they consume a lot of energy, and in the process, they emit more chemicals to the atmosphere, which can become a significant health issue for the people. Along with this, we already know how inefficient incandescent are. Of course, they are available at a relatively lower price. But once you start using the problems start, they consume a lot more energy to produce light, and the life span of these bulbs is minimal. This thing makes you compelled to keep on changing the bulbs regularly. And another problem with this type of bulb is they tend to break very quickly than modern bulbs such as CFL and LEDs.
Fluorescent Bulbs in relation to cancer
Many local authorities mandated to take the incandescent bulbs out of every home. This course of action was taken with the view of saving energy, which is precious to us and is also associated with several benefits, including the economy, less energy bill, verities, brighter light, etc. This step was looking like a promising move for making life better for everyone. But the Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) contains a toxic element – mercury. The mercury has the potential to cause serious health hazards for both long term and short periods. Mercury is enough to cause cancer to humans.
The most significant danger of fluorescent bulbs is that they damage humans both while they are working and when they stopped working! The considerable threat starts when the CFL is broken. The amount of toxicity one receives depends on how they clean up once the bulb break. The Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation conducted a massive study and found out they used and new CFLs release mercury vapor into the atmosphere. Once a CFL bulb breaks, within one hour, it releases the mercury gas and the concentration of mercury in that ranges between 200–800 μg/m3.
Of course, for ordinary people, these terms won’t tell anything. So, to make you understand the severance of this emits, you need to investigate one comparison. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set a standard for humans, and it is 100 μg/m3. Another thing to note here this amount of exposure takes at least eight hours, but in a CFL, it is nearly eight times more. Another shocking thing is, CFLs won’t embark on the release of mercury vapor with time. A brand new 13 – W CFL can release up to 30% of its mercury content within the first four days of usage, and the remaining will be inside the bulb’s debris. Once the bulb breaks, it releases about 67% of the mercury elements immediately.
The problems won’t end here itself. The other major issue is they also release the UV lights. The ultraviolet rays are the enemies of the skin. The hours of exposure to these lights can cause skin cancer, and it quickens the skin’s aging. All CFLs allow escaping the UV light to the atmosphere because the cracking or chipping of phosphor surface coating in the CFL is common.
Lights, the Environment, and Cancer
The relation between light, cancer, and the environment is more than we think. As we already saw, the CFL and LED lights can cause cancer. But what is the relationship between these types of bulbs and the environment? Let us discover it now.
Using these types of bulbs are now considered as old school method. Apart from its low investment, you can’t reap many benefits out of this. It has more drawback than the advantage. From the ecology perspective also, they are not helpful. They consume a lot of energy to produce a decent amount of light because they consume more energy to produce heat than light. In this process, the excess heat caused by the usage of incandescent emits several chemicals. They not only use and waste a lot of energy but also emit carbon dioxide substantially. Besides, the excess heat they generate causes air-cooling systems such as air conditioners to work even more challenging. The more working of AC, in turn, emits greenhouse gas and causes more problems. But in terms of cancer-causing elements, they are safe.
The CFL is more energy-efficient than incandescent. But they contain the toxic element of mercury. The mercury is not only causing the problem to human life, but it is also a danger to other living beings and for the environment in general. Most of the CFL emits up to 30% of mercury vapor to the air in the initial stage itself. Adding up to the problem, once they stopped working, it creates more problems for ecology. Once the discarded CFL reaches landfills and emits the remaining mercury, they eventually travel to the watercourse. This contaminates the water and causes a threat to marine lives. When it comes to cancer, of course, they cause cancer because of the mercury and the UV light. UV lights can cause skin cancer and fasten the aging of the skin.
From the environmental perspective, the CFL is the better choice compared to the rest. But they also emit the greenhouse while producing light. However, they are far less compared to incandescent and CFL. But the primary threat seems to be from the health perspective. The studies have claimed that LED, especially the blue light-emitting LED, are dangerous, and they cause prostate and breast cancer.
From the environmental standpoint, there is no better choice than the CFL bulb since they emit a limited greenhouse gas amount. It is free from mercury, and the emission of carbon dioxide is also very minimal.
Are LED lights harmful to your skin?
Thankfully, LED ae safe for human skin. The reason is that LED lights won’t emit the UV light. The ultraviolet rays are harmful to the skin and cause severe damages, such as asking aging and life-taking diseases such as cancer.
The LED lights are entirely safe; the LED lights are used to provide treatment for skin diseases. In this skin care treatment, the LED lights are used with varying wavelengths of light. You can see red and blue LED lights in this treatment. >Hence, even the regular exposure to LED lights, you will not get any skin problems. And it is safer for all skin types alike.
Can Blue Light Harm People?
Since lights contain electromagnetic elements, they travel in waves. The waves of light emit energy, and wavelength determines the potency of each light type. The shorter wavelengths are always more vital with high energy. The nanometer is the measurement unit used to measure the waves. Various colors represent the wavelength of light, and it is categorized by x-rays, UV rays, gamma rays, radio waves, infrared rays, and visible rays. All these wavelengths create an electromagnetic spectrum.
Our eyes cannot perceive all spectrums. Naked human eyes can detect only the visible light. The colors are violet, blue, indigo, yellow, orange, green, and red. Out of all these lights, the blue color lights have a shorter wavelength. That means they are more powerful. Due to this reason, long-term exposure to blue lights are dangerous to human health and cause long term disability.
The blue wavelengths have the range of 380nm to 500nm and thereby make this as the strongest light. Since they contain shorter wavelengths, they flicker more quickly compared to weaker and longer wavelengths. So, these flickering causes a glare; this glare reduces the visual capacity by diminishing the eyes’ clarity and sharpness. This is why many people notice headaches, eyestrain, and mental fatigue whenever they are in contact with electronic devices for a more extended period.
The Harvard researchers have claimed that working during the night shift and exposure to blue light cause multiple types of cancers, including prostate, breast, diabetes, heart diseases, depression, and obesity. Our eyes are not good at blocking the lights. Consequently, all of it passes through the retina, and then the brain translates lights into images. All color of lights controls your sleep cycle or circadian rhythm. But since blue lights are more potent, they alter the body’s preparation for the sleep. The blue lights block the melatonin hormone, which helps you to sleep.
Why do LED lights cause cancer?
The numerous studies that we have gone through shows that they cause cancer. But until now, there is no concrete evidence available to say that all LED lights are dangerous to human health and cause cancer. The common factor we can notice from all the studies is the stress about one LED light, which is blue LED lights of, course they are used to treat skin diseases. This assures that there is no harm from the blue LED lights from the skin perspective. But the studies point out the other types of hazards.
All the studies conducted so far on LED lights say that blue light is a significant threat that increases catching breast and prostate cancer. The research conducted in Spain (Barcelona and Madrid – we already covered this in the previous section) also confirms that it is two times higher in people exposed to blue LED lights than others. What could be the reason? You may be wondering LEDs don’t contain mercury and UV lights to cause cancer, but why still studies are emphasizing this point. The reason is blue lights are a very potent form of light with its shortest wavelengths. The shorter wavelength makes it easier for the blue LED lights to penetrate the human body. For the same reason, people experience a lack of sleep, eye strain, and other issues after exposure to blue light for a longer duration.
However, all these claims have remained as claims because we need to see more evidence and further studies to happen in this field. But one cannot ignore these claims since blue light is the potent light, which could be the reason for all the problems.
Is it safe to use LED lighting?
The LED lights are free from UV light, and it also doesn’t contain any toxic elements such as mercury found in CFL. And if you look at the incandescent bulbs from the perspective of safety, they increase the possibility of catching fire because they release a higher amount of heat. Due to this reason, the local authorities are not permitting to use the high heat emitting bulbs.
Even though LED doesn’t release UV light still, the blue light of LED is under the radar for many years; many studies also link problems such as mental fatigue, sleep problems, eye strain, and many issues such as the blue light emitted from computers, mobile screens, and other electronic devices. The only thing which is proven till now is blue light blocks the production of melatonin and disrupts circadian rhythm.
So, is LED lights being a concern? If it is blue lights, it can cause many problems, but it depends on various other factors.
- The intensity of LED light – If you sit very near to a LED bulb, it increases the risk than keeping some distance from the light-emitting devices.
- Duration of the exposure – The time you spend under the blue light determines the level of risk you face. The longer you stay under the exposure of blue light, the production of melanopsin increases significantly.
- Time of the day – Another intriguing fact is if you expose your body to the blue LED lights during the evening, it affects less compared to the late-night exposure. >Due to this reason, many studies also highlighted that the risk increases if you work on the night shift.
- The type of LED light you are using also determines the risk factor and degree.
How to Avoid cancer?
Well, still, the point is yet to be proven, the studies result is enough to take precautions against health risk. So, following the below measures may ensure your safety against the deadliest cancer and other related problems caused by LED lights.
- The hours of your work determine how much time you will spend under the LED lights. If you work during the day, it is less likely to use lights; hence, the risk reduction rate reduces. Thus, avoiding the night shift duties is a good move.
- The hours of exposure to the lights is another factor to deal with. If you are working in from of a computer or other LED light-emitting devices, you should not keep on working hours together. Taking a 10 to 15 minutes break after every 3 to our hours is recommended. During the break, don’t watch your mobile or TV. Spending your break time staring at your garden proves very beneficial.
- The most important thing is your lifestyle. The lousy sleeping habits, lack of exercise, and other factors also pave the way for cancer. So, make sure you are maintaining a good lifestyle to prevent cancer and other such health issues.
- Ensure you are working by keeping a fair distance between all the light-emitting devices and blue LED lights.
- Don’t keep any LED lamp near your head while sleeping. It is also essential to keep your kids away from LED lights since kids can get affected quickly than adults.
The LED lights are the innovation that is helping immensely than any other means of lighting material. As a result, you can see the widespread usage of LED lights in all walks of life. From remote control to floodlight, we can see LED usage. The impact of LED on the ecology is also very minimal, and in fact, it is the best available solution for us if you compare with the other options. But it also comes with some hazards; the risk of getting cancer is more if you use blue LED lights. However, the facts need to be verified through thorough and larger-scale studies to conclude on this. Whatever the conclusion we may get, leading a good lifestyle and taking a regular break and restricting usage duration is needed.
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