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What's Up Magazine

Let there be light…or not

Jun 17, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Light pollution is a topic near and dear to our hearts at What’s Up? We have watched our night skies, once a rich, navy blue velvet canopy over our waters and farmland, brighten to a disturbing star-less expanse. We generate so much artificial light, it obliterates all else. And that might be causing more than aesthetic concerns; our health may be at risk.

It has reached a point that even light bulb manufacturers are taking measures. An increasing number of product manufacturers have added labels alerting consumers to potential health risks. Lighting Science Group, a leading developers of LED lighting solutions who partnered with NASA to improve alertness and sleep patterns for the astronauts on the International Space Station, has just announced that it would begin voluntarily putting labels on light bulbs alerting consumers to “the potential link between health and lighting products—specifically highlighting how exposure to electric lights prior to bedtime may cause sleep disruption and other effects.”

A 2014 research report released by Harvard Medical School concluded “the use of portable light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime has biological effects that may perpetuate sleep deficiency and disrupt circadian rhythms, both of which can have adverse impacts on performance, health, and safety.”

“The effect of light on human health and wellness is meaningful and well documented,” said Fred Maxik, founder and chief technology officer of Lighting Science. “We decided it was time to be proactive and raise awareness of those effects. This warning actually belongs on all light bulbs produced worldwide and we’d hope that other lighting developers and manufacturers will join us in adding similar labels to their products.”

And perhaps computer, tablet, and smart phone manufacturers will also put on labels that warn about spending hours looking at those brightly lit screens and then trying to go right to sleep.

--Sarah Hagerty
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