Energy Saving LED Street Lights-The Unintended Consequences

Photo by Daniel Olah on Unsplash

The intentions are good: help save the planet by reducing energy consumption from streetlights. Claims also include the reduction of light pollution.

However, there could be unintended consequences associated with energy saving LED streetlights.

Artificial Light at Night (ALAN), Light Pollution and Circadian Disruption:

In many cases these new LED streetlights are contributing to light pollution, with serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and our climate.

Since 2017 there is general scientific consensus that light has the most significant outcome on altering any biochemistry in life, either positively or negatively.

So-called “white” LEDs emit a portion of their light at wavelengths below 500 nm (blue). These wavelengths are not beneficial to human and environmental health.

The 2022 National WHO EMF Project Report IAC-ZA  mandates that streetlights are modified/adjusted by changing from an energy flux model (white) to a photon flux model (orange/red). UV is included too and flicker. A photon flux model results in significantly lower energy inputs and is much more beneficial to human health.

Mounting evidence indicates that disruption of circadian regulation is associated with a wide variety of adverse health consequences, including increased risk for premature death, cancer, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular dysfunction, immune dysregulation, reproductive problems, mood disorders, and learning deficits. Of particular interest here is obesity and breast cancer.

•In 2019 a working group from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that “shift work that involves circadian disruption is probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A): IARC Monographs Vol 124 group. Carcinogenicity of night shift work: Lancet Oncology; Published 4 July 2019. DOI:

•2 June 2020 IARC Monographs Volume 124: Night Shift Work

 •In 2016, the American Medical Association responded to the growing body of evidence suggesting that intense LEDs are harmful to human health by recommending that communities change streetlights to “minimize and control blue-rich environmental lighting.”

Energy Flux versus Photon Flux model


25:39 Night Sky, Satellites

26:19 Energy Flux versus Photon Flux model

Western Cape Nature residential estate:

Prone to wildfires, drought and high winds on the coast dune line.

Intervention: external building lighting changed to a Photon-flux model.


•Night sky constellations and satellites were significantly more visible.

•Significant increase in wildlife visibility and engagement within the area. 

•Residents went to sleep earlier and there was a decrease of reported health complaints.

•Decrease in property break in attempts at night. 

•Neighboring vegetation growth on the dune increased, and grass lawn resilience to the summer elements, heat and winds significantly increased as illustrated in the images below.

Image source:

A Human Right:

On the 28th of July 2022 the UN General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution recognizing the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right and calling for greater global efforts to ensure that principle is upheld. 

This resolution updates the Equality Act under the heading of International Binding Treaties, as per the 2022 National WHO EMF Project Report IAC-ZA

This is not progress!

A LED energy saving street light is placed in very close proximity to a residence (without any warning or consultation with the homeowner). 

The light is so bright that it is impossible to spend time outside at night in the garden.

To make matters worse, the light is on all day.

Imagine the frustration- attempts to resolve the matter are ignored;  enquiries to the municipality in regards to the specifications of the light are ignored or sent from pillar to post.

The public is aware that some smart cities incorporate sensors for air quality, pedestrian traffic, monitoring electricity use and more. In addition some streetlights are equipped for telecommunication purposes. Is it a wonder then that conspiracy theories flourish – when there is such a lack of transparency and cooperation?

Done well, LEDs could save the planet, in the sense of reining in light pollution,” says astronomer John Barentine, also of International Dark-Sky Association. “Done carelessly, it could be devastating.”


2022 National WHO EMF Project Report IAC-ZA

American Medical Association warns of health and safety problems from ‘white’ LED streetlights

UN General Assembly Resolution

Thomas Münzel, Omar Hahad, Andreas Daiber, The dark side of nocturnal light pollution. Outdoor light at night increases risk of coronary heart disease, European Heart Journal, Volume 42, Issue 8, 21 February 2021, Pages 831–834,

Miao Cao, Ting Xu, Daqiang Yin, Understanding light pollution: Recent advances on its health threats and regulations, Journal of Environmental Sciences, Volume 127, 2023, Pages 589-602, 1001-0742,

Bright LEDs could spell the end of dark skies MIT Technology Review

Our nights are getting brighter and Earth is paying the price

Shanghai wants to dim light pollution

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