SCHEER Preliminary Opinion on the potential risks to human health of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
The opinion focussed on four main sources of risk associated with the use of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) lighting or displays. These included:
- Hazards to the eyes and skin from direct and diffuse light exposure and long-term health effects in the general population;
- Issues arising from direct viewing of some LED sources where the risk arises from impact on vision such as distraction, glare and after-images;
- Problems with temporal characteristics of the LED emission effecting visual perception of the light or the surrounding environment;
- The effect on the circadian rhythm (sleep wake cycle).
There was sufficient evidence to suggest that the blue light exposure caused disruptions in the circadian rhythm, especially if the exposure occurred in the evening hours before sleep times. This effect was more pronounced in children due to different light penetration properties of the young eye. It was not clear whether this disruption on the sleep wake cycle had any long-term health effects.
The main strengths of the review conducted by SCHEER were:
- SCHEER looked at age-dependent effects including exposure to children under 3, adults, the elderly and susceptible groups;
- The potential health effects were examined for exposure to LEDs under normal use or any reasonably foreseeable misuse;
- The review included comparisons to exposures from traditional lighting sources showing lower exposure from LEDs at wavelengths in the UV and Infrared regions.