Researchers have concluded that certain types of LED lights can be harmful toward a wide variety of wildlife, calling attention to the potential hazards of the rapid expansion of LED light usage. Though LEDs made up only 9 percent of the global market in 2011, that number is expected to rise to 69 percent by 2020. In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology, researchers concluded that blue and white LED lighting is the most harmful to wildlife, particularly animals such as sea turtles and insects, while green, amber and yellow are more favorable.
As the urbanization of our planet continues, it is essential that policymakers and scientists understand the potential outcomes of altering a space so drastically from its natural state. “Outdoor environments are changing rapidly and in ways that can impact wildlife species,” study leader author Travis Longcore told Phys.org. The researchers incorporated existing ecological data into the study as the team examined the impacts of different kinds of LED lights on animals such as insects, sea turtles, salmon and Newell’s shearwater seabird.
LED lights seem to adversely affect species in different ways. Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings can be lured inland by artificial light rather than into the ocean, while migrating juvenile salmon’s attraction to light may leave them vulnerable to predators. To better inform the public regarding the risks of LED, the study includes the first publicly available database that documents how about 24 different kinds of light can impact wildlife. “If we don’t provide advice and information to decision-makers, they will go with the cheapest lighting or lighting that serves only one interest and does not balance other interests,” Longcore said. “We provide a method to assess the probable consequences of new light sources to keep up with the changing technology and wildlife concerns.”