'It's totally offensive': Charlottetown resident concerned about new LED lights

Phil Ferraro says new LED streetlights, which were installed two weeks ago, are keeping him and his wife up at night.

The City of Charlottetown is replacing thousands of street lights with LED lights

Charlottetown resident Phil Ferraro said the new LED light outside his home has made it impossible to get a good night sleep. (Submitted by Phil Ferraro)

A Charlottetown resident doesn't think it was a bright idea to install high-intensity streetlights in his neighbourhood.

Phil Ferraro says the new LED streetlights, one of which was installed in front of his house two weeks ago, are keeping him and his wife up at night.

"I've been complaining about first the quality of the light in terms of the way it just changes the whole ambience of street ... My wife has been subject to migraine headaches. It's been a problem ever since," he said.

The new 5,000K LED lights that have been installed on several streets in Charlottetown emit a blue-rich light. (Submitted by Phil Ferraro)

"I don't get migraines, but I've been noticing sleep disruption ever since that light came in ... In fact, last night I was up, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning thinking it was morning, and had a really difficult time getting back to sleep."

Ferraro is not alone in his complaint. People in Halifax are also complaining about the new, whiter street lights. Their concerns are backed up by the American Medical Association.

Wants softer, cooler lights

Maritime Electric has been working with the city to replace existing bulbs with more energy-efficient LED bulbs, as part of a 10-year program.

The city has already installed about 15 to 20 per cent of the LED lights on several streets.

Ferraro said he isn't opposed to LED lights, but wants softer, cooler lights.

Maritime Electric plans to test softer cooler lights in some areas of the city in the coming weeks. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"What we see going in in the city is 5,000K (Kelvin), which is a bright blue light," he said.

"It's a good light during the day if you're working under conditions that need a bright light to see what you're doing. But, it's an offensive light at night."

'A mixture of lights might work better'

Kim Griffin, a spokesperson with Maritime Electric, said the utility has heard those concerns, ordered sample lights and plans to test them as quickly as possible to install the cooler LED lights in selected neighbourhoods. Preliminary research suggests a mixture of lights might work better, she said.

"We've met with a couple of customers, there's a lead time of these lights," she said. "They're going to take about three weeks to get them in stock and in P.E.I. So, we want to get that light here and see it for ourselves.… We want to move very quickly on this and see what options are available."

Health Canada monitoring impacts of LED lights

In a statement, Health Canada said it will continue to monitor scientific research on the impact of LED lights.

"Health Canada is aware that some LED lighting products can produce relatively high levels of blue-light, compared to conventional lighting," said the statement.

"Scientific studies have linked prolonged and intense blue-light exposure to changes in melatonin levels, which can affect sleep physiology. 

"Health Canada notes that the level of blue-light exposure from LED lights is dependent on a number of factors, including the colour-temperature of the bulbs, the distance from the LED source, and the design or configuration of the light source.

"Many newer LED technologies offer warmer-colour temperatures, reducing blue-light emissions to levels similar to those of conventional lighting."

'These lights have to go'

It can't come soon enough for Ferraro, who plans to hold a community meeting with neighbours to share their concerns.

"I'm not backing down from this," he said. "These lights have to go. We don't want them to ruin our city. We need to stop it now and correct it before it goes any further."