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Environmental Management Council Addresses Lighting Concerns

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Environmental Management Council Addresses Lighting Concerns

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Tompkins County Environmental Management Council (EMC) has taken a position on the issue of indoor and outdoor lighting, specifically regarding the presence of blue light in the environment.

The resolution passed by the Council at its June 8th meeting features an alert and policy recommendations for Tompkins County residents, schools, and municipalities to consider regarding excessive blue light at night in homes and the external environment.

The EMC reports that New York State has developed several programs to encourage municipalities, businesses, and non-profit organizations to upgrade their current lighting systems, and that by replacing conventional street lights with efficient light emitting diode (LED) street lights, communities can reduce energy use by as much as 65 percent, generating significant cost savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Communities Program recognizes and rewards local governments for their clean energy leadership when adopting LED lighting replacement programs by prioritizing such community’s eligibility for other types of energy efficiency project funding, the Council notes. These incentives have encouraged many communities to plan and implement a transition to LED lighting systems.

“Our recommendations are in response to a groundbreaking 2016 report released by the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Science and Public Health that affirms known and suspected impacts to human health and the environment caused by LED streetlights that emit excessive amounts of blue light,” said Brian Eden, chair of the EMC. “The concern about blue-rich light at night extends to night lighting within our homes, including hand-held smartphones and computer monitors. The AMA report details findings from an increasing body of scientific evidence that implicates exposure to blue-rich white light at night to increased risks for cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The EMC urges those planning to upgrade their lighting systems to review our policy statement prior to their implementation of such a program.”

The full text of the recommendations is available at