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The European Union (EU)’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) has published a long draft study titled “The potential risks to human health of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)”.

The Committee has concluded that there is no evidence of direct negative effects on the health of the healthy population from light emitting diodes (LEDs) under normal conditions of use (lighting and display luminaires).

But why is there a study on this subject?

In the lighting sector there is an on-going debate about the fact that the energy peak of short wavelengths, together with the majority of LEDs which, owing to phosphorus, convert light into the colour white, could represent a risk to the human eye. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has also looked at this issue on a number of occasions and various technical articles have been published on this matter including a study by the IEC.

The EU gave SCHEER the task of studying the matter in a scientifically exhaustive manner in order to evaluate the impact of blue energy on the human eye and skin. At the end of the study, the committee had established that typical human exposure to energy produced by lighting and display luminaires which use LEDs is far lower than the safety limits established.

Furthermore, the report declared that the absence of ultraviolet (UV) light in the LED sources helps to reduce the risk to humans from UV energy present in other light sources and from the sun. The conclusions of the report were immediately welcomed by Lighting Europe (the organisation of European producers of lighting luminaires). Ourania Georgoutsakou, Secretary General of Lighting Europe, declared that “one of the key objectives of Lighting Europe is to inform the market on good quality lighting and to support consumers in making informed choices”.

The report also mentions a number of potentially problematic situations when using LEDs. Among them is the discomfort from glare associated with the use of LEDs in car headlights and in other applications. In any case the report maintains that the problem of glare has a temporary and not a permanent impact on healthy human beings. The report also cites the reflexes relating to street lighting, but stresses that this is a problem due, above all, to design. Moreover the increase in LED street lighting converters has improved energy efficiency in relation to quality.

And finally the report confirms that a number of LED products may have a greater impact on circadian rhythms compared with traditional sources, but also continues to maintain that there is no evidence that disturbances in circadian rhythms lead to negative effects on health. This is a matter which is certainly at odds with that reported by many scientists and which is at the centre of the development of HCL products.

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