Response to AMA report on Outdoor Lighting

IES Preliminary Review of AMA Report on LED “Community Lighting” (CSAPH Report 2-A-16)

June 24, 2016

To the IES Membership:

On June 14, 2016, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced its adoption of recommendations contained in CSAPH Report 2-A-16 entitled Human and Environmental Effects of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Community Lighting.”1 2 This report was approved as part of the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health (CSPAH) proceedings. The IES was not consulted in this process.

The adopted AMA recommendations in this report are:

  1. That our American Medical Association (AMA) support the proper conversion to community-based Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting, which reduces energy consumption and decreases the use of fossil fuels. (New HOD [AMA’s House of Delegates policy-making body] Policy)
  2. That our AMA encourage minimizing and controlling blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare. (New HOD Policy)
  3. That our AMA encourage the use of 3000K or lower lighting for outdoor installations such as roadways. All LED lighting should be properly shielded to minimize glare and detrimental human and environmental effects, and consideration should be given to utilize the ability of LED lighting to be dimmed for off-peak time periods. (New HOD Policy)

Since the AMA’s adoption of this report, several news channels and websites are carrying reports with varying degrees of information and misinformation about the claims and recommendations within the report specific to recommendations 2 and 3, and the accompanying AMA press release. Of primary concern to the IES is the potential for this report and its ensuing press to misinform the public with incomplete or inaccurate claims and improper interpretations.  We intend to respond to this through a proper analysis, in keeping with the IES Mission Statement, “to improve the lighted environment by bringing together those with lighting knowledge and by translating that knowledge into actions that benefit the public.”

We are working with a group of researchers familiar with these issues, representing different institutions and areas of practice, to review the AMA report. Here is where we are at this point:

  1. In 2012, the AMA prepared a Report A-12, “Light Pollution: Adverse Health Effects of Nighttime Illumination.”  That 2012 report included 134 references and was consistent with IES Standards and findings. The 2012 report recommendations include, “Supports the need for further multidisciplinary research on the risks and benefits of occupational and environmental exposure to light-at-night”.   
  2. The new 2016 report contains 37 references, some of which are repeats from the 2012 report. Our first effort is to establish which of these 37 references, if any, provide any new information significant enough to warrant the change in AMA recommendations.  We will also determine if any significant references were not included in the report, but should have been, to ensure accuracy.
  3. The IES was not represented in the deliberations leading to this document. We intend to contact the AMA and work with them to ensure that any lighting related recommendations include some discussion with the IES.

We are dedicated to perform a thorough and reasoned review of this AMA report, on behalf of the IES, our constituencies, and the general public.

Brian Liebel, Technical Director of Standards
Bob Horner, Director of Public Policy
Mark Lien, Industries Relations Manager