June 29, 2017: Researchers of the UK-based University of Exeter have found that LED street lighting can be customised to reduce its impacts on the environment.
The new study found that spiders and beetles get attracted to grasslands that are lit by LED lighting at night. The study also found that the number of species affected by the LED lights was significantly reduced when the LED lights were dimmed by 50%, and switched off between midnight and 4 am.
By 2020, LEDs have been estimated to account for 69% of the global lighting market, which was only 9% in 2011. However, there have been studies that suggest that LED lighting has damaging effects on plants and animals. The Exeter researchers say that studies are urgently needed to understand how to prevent LED lighting from affecting the environment.
According to Dr Thomas Davies, Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, fundamental changes can be made to the way the environment is lighted at night, with potentially profound results for a range of species.
Dr Thomas Davies has pointed out the global concern over the growth of LED lighting and its documented impacts on the environment. However, the University of Exeter research shows that local authorities can manage LED lighting in such a way that it reduces its impacts on the environment. The researchers are now working to establish whether this is the case for a greater variety of species.
Their results suggest that the use of LED lighting will have impacts on the predatory invertebrates, leading to knock on effects for other species in grassland food-webs.
The researchers compared the impact of a range of lighting on the environment being used by local authorities to save money and reduce CO2 emissions, including changing the spectrum of colours produced by the LED lights, dimming them and switching them off from midnight to 4 am.
Dr Davies added: “While these approaches helped to reduce the number of ground dwelling spider and beetle species affected by LED lighting to varying degrees, our study also shows that avoiding these impacts may ultimately require avoiding the use of LEDs and night-time lighting more generally.”
Source: University of Exeter