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LED streetlights are designed to be more energy-efficient and provide a brighter light across the spectrum when working properly. When the light malfunctions, it typically flickers slowly or flashes rapidly, resembling a strobe light. Several factors can cause the malfunctions, including current changes, loose connections, or damaged LED light beads and some municipalities, including Poughkeepsie, are starting to respond to worries about flickering LEDs.

The problem a few motorists traveling on Route 9 at night or in the early morning hours is a streetlight that is flashing rapidly, gives the appearance of a rapid-flashing strobe light.

The exposure to a strobe light can cause “flicker vertigo” that can trigger several symptoms including disorientation, nausea, rapid blinking, and muscle rigidity. The symptoms, according to research, are typically temporary and disappear when the individual is removed from the area. Flicker vertigo symptoms are similar to those associated with epilepsy.

On the southbound side of South Road/Route 9, just before the Speedway gas station, there is a flickering LED streetlight which motorists say only recently began to malfunction. The more distracting streetlight that is distracting travelers is located on the northbound side of Route 9, just before reaching the Spackenkill Road overpass. The light, one of the brightest in the area, has been malfunctioning for more than a month.

Motorists have said that the strobing effect of the light is a major distraction that affects drivers on both Route 9 and Spackenkill Road. One individual says he reported the issue to DOT more than a week ago but nothing has been done to repair it.

Mid-Hudson News used a dashcam during the evening hours to record the flickering southbound light as well as to record the Route 9/Spackenkill Road light in the pre-dawn hours. The technology of the camera slows down the strobing light on the recording, indicating that the light is much more distracting when viewed by the human eye.

Source: Mid-Hudson News


From another view, according to an article in CNN News the European health authority warns that LED lights damage eyes and can disturb sleep. And then there is the environmental impact on the night sky and disturbance to animal life. LED's can also disturb our biological and sleep rhythms, a French health authority warned in a new report.

New scientific evidence confirms the “phototoxic effects” of short-term exposures to high-intensity blue light, as well as an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration after chronic exposure to lower-intensity sources, according to the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, known as ANSES. Age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss among people over 50, causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina that’s needed for sharp central vision.

Yet protection from the harmful effects to the retina offered by “anti-blue light” screens, filters and sunglasses varies, and their ability to preserve sleep rhythms is not proven, ANSES also said.

ANSES differentiates types of blue light in its report. For example, “warm white” domestic LED lighting has weak phototoxicity risks, similar to traditional lighting, according to ANSES. However, other LED lighting sources, including the newest flashlights, car headlights and some toys, produce a whiter and “colder” blue light that is more harmful.

“There are blue light photoreceptors in the retina that directly communicate with the brain circadian clock,” Tosini, who was not involved in the ANSES report, wrote in an email. “It is true that exposure to light in the evening affect sleep and circadian rhythms mostly by inhibiting the synthesis of the sleep promoting hormone melatonin.”

However, Sparrow said that, generally, sunglasses block ultraviolet light, and those “that have a yellow tint should be preferred as they will also reduce the amount of blue light that reaches the retina.”

Ultimately, ANSES believes the recommended maximum limit on short-term exposure to blue light should be revised downward, even if most people would only rarely be able to meet that level. Children and teenagers, whose eyes do not fully filter blue light, are particularly sensitive to the harms of cold blue light, the French authority noted. The agency also recommended that only low-risk LED devices be available to consumers and the luminosity of car headlights be reduced.

The results of these studies are controversial however, with American researchers generally downplaying the risks and actually saying that LED light can help keep energy levels up during the middle of the day.

All in all it seems that a middleground with a lower risk level of high luminosity both for consumer use and headlights when balancing the economic savings vs. potential eye risk and disturbance of circadium rhythms and disruption to wildlife as well as enjoyment of a clear "night sky".

At any rate, it's a big boon for companies that sell shaded glasses and tinted vehicle windows.

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