News, Outdoor

Montreal drops disputed LED plan after angry protests

Montreal is not the only city to retreat from powerful LED street lights, New York has also taken a step back from using 4000K fixtures after a mountain of complaints.
LEDs that are above  3000K can, the American Medical Association warns, reduce melatonin levels, prompting a decline in the quality of sleep. 

The City of Montreal has dropped plans to replace 132,000 streetlights with 4000K LED  luminaires after angry protests prompted a change of heart in city hall.

The protests had been prompted by a string of health warnings, including one from the American Medical Association (AMA), that LED could cause sleep problems as well as prompt adverse risks when driving.

The thousands of streetlights slated for replacement will now be fitted with 3000K LED lights instead, in an attempt to satisfy the critics. The replacement fixtures will give off a much warmer hue than the rejected luminaires, which emit a rich blue light that is close to the quality of daylight.

In June 2016, the AMA issued a much publicised report which advised against the use of strong LED light in the public realm.

In the report, the AMA cautioned against the use of LED luminaires as they ‘emit a large amount of blue light that appears white to the naked eye, creating 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,’ the AMA continued in the report, words that have now been adopted as official guidelines by the US health body.

The AMA also noted that blue-rich LED night-time light is able to reduce melatonin levels, which in turn prompts a decline in hours of sleep, sleep quality and daytime functioning.

‘LEDs emit a large amount of blue light that appears white to the naked eye, creating a worse nighttime glare than conventional lighting.’

The American Medical Association 

‘After taking note of all the information, notably on the issues of security, light, atmosphere and public health, we chose to move forward with a less intense luminosity,’ the mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, commented in a statement.

It will take five years and cost $100 million for the city to replace the luminaires, however, despite the cost the new technology will allow city authorities to more efficiently fix broken or malfunctioning lights, as well as monitor energy consumption.

The local government of Montreal expects to reduce energy costs by 35 percent as a result of the project and, due to the long life of LED and its reliability, expects to cut maintenance costs by 55 percent.

Different cities have responded to the AMA guidelines in different ways. New York has switched to lower Kelvin fixtures altogether after a mountain of complaints were received.

However, Toronto is sticking to 4000K for main roads, while Seattle and Washington may be about to ignore the furore all togther and install extremely bright 4100K lights.