Jan 2, 2017: Chicago will replace 270,000 old high-powered sodium streetlights with LED lights by 2020. However, health and environmental experts urge government to choose the right LED lights due to health concerns. In December 2016, the US city implemented the project at seven pilot sites to get public feedback.
Although many cities across the world have switched to LED lighting, a few cities have faced certain issues, and were forced to dim, retrofit or replace lights that needed more shielding to avoid too much bright blue light or glare.
According to some studies, exposure to blue light at night affects sleep and leads to health problems. One study by American Medical Association on LED streetlights, warned about potential health problems due to glare and very bright blue light; it also affects the environment, the study said.
The study recommended that cities should choose LED lights with shields and have a color temperature of 3000 kelvins or less. These lights should be shielded so that the light falls on the streets and the sidewalks, and not on the sky or people’s homes.
Chicago’s proposal complies with this recommendation. However, the lights will not have shields to prevent shining into the sky or windows of the residents. Chicago’s LED lighting proposal will save the city by 50 percent energy.
Rose Jordan, consultant for Chicago’s LED lighting project, said the new LED fixtures will not send light into the sky, and will not cause light pollution. If any resident experience light trespass, a shield can be installed to the LED streetlight.
A group of students from Amundsen High School on the North Side checked the brightness of the lights at the pilot locations and showed concern over the fact that the LED fixtures lack shields.