“Cancer causing” streetlights to be implemented across Leeds

Leeds city council are to discuss the £30m plan to upgrade Leeds street lights in an upcoming meeting -despite health concerns.

By James Brennan

Leeds will see 86,000 of the 92,00 halogen streetlights replaced with LED lamps

Leeds will see 86,000 of the 92,00 halogen streetlights replaced with LED lamps. Image courtesy of WikiCommons.

A plan to be discussed by the executive committee will see the city council upgrade 86,000 of the 92,000 halogen street lights with newer LED versions. It is expected that these street lights will save the Leeds tax payers between £2.5m to £3m per year.

Current street lighting in Leeds is mainly made up of halogen bulbs that give out an orange light. This type of lamp has been used  widely for a long time due to the fact that they are able to give out a very large quantity of light. However, due to the age of street lamps, maintenance and energy costs are spiralling. Couple this with the efficiency of modern technology and the council’s reasoning for implementing the lights are very clear.

The new streets lamps, which contain LEDs (light-emitting-diodes), give off a much whiter light than generic halogen street lights – a similar light to that of television screens and mobile phones. It is for this reason that LED street lighting has made headlines previously due to cases of eyesight damage being reported as a result of their use.

In response to this, the council has said they will use softer, less bright lights. But this has raised concerns with local residents. Kennedy Rooney said: “I live in the middle of Hyde Park. It’s a scary enough place at night as it is. If these new street lights are going to be dimmer, there’s just going to be more trouble at night.”

As well as the street light changes, a ‘smart lighting’ system will be developed that will monitor that will monitor gulleys and drainage systems. It is thought that this will help the council manage the risk of flooding.

The street lights will begin to be implemented in the summer of 2019.

Smart city sensors

The council have said that the changing of street lights should cost around £25m with a further £5m being put aside for the implementation of ‘smart city’ sensors that will be installed over the next five years.

Smart city sensors are used in most cities. They measure weather and climate conditions, traffic volumes and levels of radiation. Often located on the top of lamp posts, these sensors are vitally important in the management of traffic, security systems and emergency alerts.

Increased risk of cancer

Leeds will not be the first city to adopt LED street lighting. The system is particularly popular in Spain with most cities having already adopted the system. A study, co-conducted by the University of Essex and Barcelona Institute for Global Health, found a ‘strong link’ between exposure the blue-white light given off by LED’s and the increased risk of contracting breast or prostate cancer.

The study, which looked at over 4000 people living in 11 different regions of Spain, found that the over-exposure to LED light altered the body’s circadian rhythm. This, in turn, affected hormone levels. Both prostate and breast cancer are hormone related.

Dr Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel, from the University of Exeter, told The Telegraph: “Humans have evolved to need light during the day and darkness at night. As towns and cities replace older lighting, we’re all exposed to higher levels of  “blue” lights, which can disrupt our biological clocks.

“It’s imperative that we know for sure whether this increases our risk of cancer. Scientists have long suspected this may be the case – now our innovative findings indicate a strong link.” as reported by the Telegraph.

The study also suggested that the late-night use of mobile phones was also a contributing factor to the increased chance of contracting cancer.




About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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