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LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

Posted February 25, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

A study from the University of Exeter found that light-emitting diode (LED) lighting may have damaging effects on plants and other animals now that more streetlights are being converted to the energy-saving technology. The research presents methods for LED lighting management that could reduce these effects.


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#1

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/25/2017 8:15 AM

There is some evidence that small birds can see the flicker of LED lights:

http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/106708#comment1144555

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#2

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/25/2017 7:57 PM

I read this article a couple of times, and it talks about some unspecified "impacts" on ground-dwelling beetles and spiders by LED lighting. It's not at all clear what these effects are or if there was any comparison testing with done tungsten lighting.

It's very short on details. I don't think I can get too excited about it.

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#3

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/25/2017 8:14 PM

Sometimes we worry too much about the little stuff.

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#4

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/26/2017 3:41 AM

To quote..

“We are making fundamental changes to the way we light the night-time environment, with potentially profound consequences for a range of species,” said Dr. Thomas Davies, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter.

The magic word..."potentially"...

So no proof as yet I take it!

This sound like a report generated by a university that has loads of money thrown at it by manufacturers of incandescent lamps, to rubbish LED's.

To use the word "potentially", means that there is no really hard evidence, they are trying even in the early stages to prove their worth to the backers, and last but not least, they will milk this cow for all it's worth!

Well done University of Exeter.... take a bow!

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#9
In reply to #4

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/27/2017 4:16 AM

More likely it's an attempt to attract research funding from NERC I thought, but a little research finds is a European Research Council one with about 2 months of funding left to run, http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/98090_en.html

https://www.exeter.ac.uk/esi/people/researchandtechnical/davies/

https://www.exeter.ac.uk/media/universityofexeter/esi/pdfs/ECOLIGHT_Concertina_12pp_FINAL.pdf

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#5

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/26/2017 8:16 AM

"plants and other animals"?

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#6

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/26/2017 10:20 AM

"May"...

Del

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#7

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/26/2017 10:34 AM

This sounds interesting but not alarming. Interesting in that it implies avenues for more research on our ecosystem.

LED lights do a very efficient job of producing the very narrow band of light our eyes perceive. The risk to spiders maybe that they perceive this narrow band of light, too. However, their prey may not perceive these same wavelengths. Thus the spiders that adapted to the broad spectrum of night lights previously used may now not hunt or trap as successfully.

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#8

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/26/2017 10:38 AM

We usually don't think about things we don't see. In the case of common LED lighting a blue LED chip is used to make a yellow phosphor fluoresce. The color of the yellow phosphor can be tuned a bit and likewise the amount of phosphor used, thus by manipulating these ratios manufacturers can vary the output from warm white to cool white.

BUT what human eyes don't really see is how much blue LED light is being emitted. Human eyes have very little response at the blue end of the spectrum. LED lights emit A LOT of blue light. There is far more blue energy in LED lighting than in an equivalent amount of sunlight or incandescent lighting.

This blue energy actually makes it harder for humans to see at night, since the blue photons quench the rhodopsin (visual purple) in the retina that provides our ability to see at night. (That's one reason many people hate seeing bluish headlights from oncoming traffic.) At the same time, bugs are drawn to blue light - which is partly why those mosquito zappers use blue light.

As a long-time astronomer I have seen many changes over the years in night time lighting. Thankfully the old mercury vapor lamps are gone. They were often replaced by low pressure sodium, which emitted amber light which was actually the best for the environment in terms of affecting the nocturnal habits of animals. (And were 'ok' for astronomy as well. It's nearly monochromatic spectrum was easy to remove with selective filtering, when doing photometry or photography.)

The proliferation of nighttime LED lighting is sad to see. I am sure it will have a long-term affect on animal life for the reasons I mentioned above. And since it is less expensive to use, I expect to see a lot more used. And it's broad-spectrum output will fill the skies with stray light, making it more difficult to see the stars even when far from a city.

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#10

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/27/2017 5:38 AM

After I switch to LED bulbs, the house dwelling lizard are all gone?

Good? No, now I have plenty of mosquitoes to eradicate. House lizard are natural predator's of mosquitoes, cockroach, flies etc.

Does this mean's end of their specie?

or will this be effective also on their kind of specie, like crocodiles and alligators for perimeter lighting? someone has to try?

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#11

Re: LED Lighting May Impact Wildlife Negatively

02/27/2017 4:58 PM

Last summer I did a DIY LED conversion of my old yard light.

I put seven 60 watt equivalent LED's in it. (~35 watts total and way brighter than the old 250 watt equivalent, 85 watt actual, CFL bulb ever was on a good warm summer night).

Bugs and spiders seem to like it here given the mess it has inside the lens now.

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