Don't look directly at the light
28 April 2018, 20:47
Walking home on a dark night, on a dark street is something that makes us fearful, with good reason. Danger lurks in the dark.
Unfortunately, danger also lurks in the light, by which I mean the actual light itself.
Scientists have studied 4,000 people living in various parts of Spain where that new-fangled LED lighting has been installed in street lamps.
Their findings do not make for good reading, especially if you are reading them by the light of one of those lamps.
Light-emitting diode bulbs dramatically increase the chances of developing breast and prostate cancer.
Experts are warning the authorities to stop the roll out of the new street lamps but it might be too late.
A third of the lights on motorways and A roads have been changed to LED's and councils across the land are busy replacing the warm glow of the old orange bulbs with the bright white light of the future.
The problem is that they might look white but in fact they emit a blue light which is like the light of the dawn. This tells our bodies that it is time to wake up, when in fact it is time to sleep.
Our circadian rhythm gets disrupted, our production of the sleep regulating hormone melatonin is decreased and that means our brains don't know whether to pass out or have breakfast.
The resultant disrupted sleep pattern means, according to the study, a doubling of the risk of developing prostate cancer and a 150% higher risk of breast cancer.
All from dodgy street lights.
There are now so many of them that our hormones are completely on the blink.
But it is worse than that because the same blue wake-up light is made by our bestest and most special friends: our smartphones and tablets.
We might be persuaded to venture home in the dark but you would have to take our phones from our cold dead hands.
Staring into them causes our hormones to be in perpetual wakefulness mode.
It is especially bad to stare at them late at night, when millions of us do just that, in case we have missed some vital update about a friend's dinner or an important video of a puppy dog doing something cute.
That light is everywhere now. It is above us in the street and comes from the phone in our hands and the LED bulbs are the ones that are fitted to the front of new cars.
They are installed for safety reasons so that other road users can see the car they are fitted on.
We can see them all right. They are so dazzling that after getting a blast of them in the eyeballs we can't see anything else, rendering the safety aspect somewhat compromised.
They are, however, cheap to run and therefore better for the council's road lighting budget.
That might be why they are so keen, despite the health warnings.
And if they take the money they don't spend on electricity and use it to bump up the remuneration of the chief executive, wouldn't that be illuminating?