August 10, 2021 Grady and Dunham to the Mayor and Trustees
9 August 2021
Dear Mayor Essek and Trustees:
We are a physicist and an astronomer from SUNY Fredonia, responsible for the observatory there, and residents of Fredonia. In March of 2019, we sent a letter to then-Mayor Landis and the Fredonia Village Board of Trustees expressing our concerns over a proposed LED streetlight conversion project. We include that full letter as an addendum below, and summarize here that the exact LEDs must be carefully chosen to avoid increasing light pollution. We must emphasize that we are not opposed to LED streetlight conversion projects on general principle; instead we urge caution in selecting the best LEDs. To emphasize the long-lasting negative impacts of poorly chosen LEDs, we include here a quote from a press release by the American Medical Association in June 2016 (source: https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/press-releases/ama-adopts-guidance-reduce-harm-high-intensity-street-lights):
“High-intensity LED lighting designs emit a large amount of blue light that appears white to the naked eye and create worse nighttime glare than conventional lighting. Discomfort and disability from intense, blue-rich LED lighting can decrease visual acuity and safety, resulting in concerns and creating a road hazard.
In addition to its impact on drivers, blue-rich LED streetlights operate at a wavelength that most adversely suppresses melatonin during night. It is estimated that white LED lamps have five times greater impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps. Recent large surveys found that brighter residential nighttime lighting is associated with reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and obesity.
The detrimental effects of high-intensity LED lighting are not limited to humans. Excessive outdoor lighting disrupts many species that need a dark environment. For instance, poorly designed LED lighting disorients some bird, insect, turtle and fish species, and U.S. national parks have adopted optimal lighting designs and practices that minimize the effects of light pollution on the environment.
Recognizing the detrimental effects of poorly-designed, high-intensity LED lighting, the AMA encourages communities to minimize and control blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare. The AMA recommends an intensity threshold for optimal LED lighting that minimizes blue-rich light. The AMA also recommends all LED lighting should be properly shielded to minimize glare and detrimental human health and environmental effects, and consideration should be given to utilize the ability of LED lighting to be dimmed for off-peak time periods.”
In a recent Village Board meeting there was talk about setting up a demonstration where members of the public could see and comment on various proposed LEDs. We strongly support holding such a demonstration, and would be happy to provide any guidance and input desired by the Village.
Michael Grady, Ph.D.
Michael Dunham, Ph.D.
Department of Physics, SUNY Fredonia