LightAware seeks to raise awareness about the effects of artificial lighting on human health and wellbeing.
Please help us to set up an organisation to provide a much-needed resource for people adversely affected by new forms of lighting, and for businesses and services seeking to be fully inclusive.
So what’s the issue?
Artificial lighting has changed dramatically in recent years, with the ban on incandescent light bulbs and the development of different forms of ‘low energy’ lighting, (including CFLs, LEDs, and halogens). New stages of legislation with increasingly stringent guidelines for energy efficiency will result in more changes in the coming years.
Isn’t that a good thing? What’s the problem?
Unfortunately many people experience pain and ill health when exposed to new forms of lighting. Some people with pre-existing health issues find their conditions exacerbated: including migraine and light-sensitive skin conditions such as Lupus and Xeroderma pigmentosum.
Many people with no previous health issues also experience problems under new forms of lighting. Some experience severe symptoms, including searing eye pain, debilitating headaches, skin burning and rashes, dizziness, fainting and vomiting. For others, the symptoms are milder: anxiety, edginess, eczema, or just a sensation of discomfort or ‘wrongness’ that’s hard to locate.
“At times it is like a
tiny knife cutting into my eyeballs. On many occasions, a super-bright DRL has
come into the centre of my vision and, before I could avert my gaze, there was
a distinct physical pain which felt very unhealthy…”
“Driving under LED lights, the searing pain went deep into my head. My mind felt like it went into shock. Like a mollusk when poked, my mind felt like it went into deep contraction. I felt like I was in a microwave oven. I felt fried. The pain actually increased over the subsequent hours... even now as I am looking at my computer screen, the light is bothering that part that feels wounded – my computer doesn’t normally bother me…OMG I don’t know how I am going to get home from work…” Clea, US
Under current legislation there is no provision for those who cannot tolerate the alternatives to acquire the lighting they need to light their homes and live their lives.
So how do they… work, rest and play?
As new lighting spreads throughout civic life, light-sensitive people are increasingly excluded from normal life. Light sensitivity affects access to any artificially-lit environment…including the streets:
The problems of isolation and social exclusion are exacerbated by the lack of public awareness about this issue. There is currently very little information available to sufferers or medics, or for businesses, services etc seeking to accommodate light-sensitive people.
"My head got turned into Swiss cheese at a Stereophonics gig in London tonight. Left in a real crisis. The installation LED lights at work was the beginning of the end for me. Having these in the lifts, toilets and other floors at work has been a real crisis for me... Symptoms include extreme eye pain, agitation, rage and an overwhelming desire to vacate the room."
Andrew, London, UK
So what’s going on?
That’s the question, which only leads to many, many more questions…
Senior medics have expressed deep concern about the affect of new lighting on human eyes, skin and nervous system. But we still don’t know:
- How does artificial lighting affect human health and wellbeing?
- How many people are adversely affected by new forms of lighting?
- How can one type of light bulb cause different problems in different people, affecting skin, eyes, head and the nervous system?
- Why are some people affected by some forms
of light and not others?
LightAware believes these questions urgently need addressing.
What is LightAware?
LightAware is a registered charity. Our
charitable objectives are:
To raise awareness about the effects of artificial lighting on human health and wellbeing.
We need a conversation about light, nationally and internationally. It’s too important to be changed so drastically without due consideration and real understanding.
To stimulate discussion and investigation into
the effects of artificial lighting on human health and wellbeing.
LightAware believes the issue needs much greater scrutiny by medics, scientists politicians and the media. We can’t answer all the questions ourselves, but we seek to raise awareness of this unreported issue and bring together a wide range of professionals from relevant areas such as lighting technology, neurology, dermatology, ophthalmology, architecture, psychology and more, to help piece the puzzle together.
The promotion of equality and diversity
through encouraging provision of access to civic life for those excluded by
sensitivity to artificial lighting.
The spread of new lighting has resulted in the social exclusion of light-sensitive people, who are unable to access many places of employment, recreation, education and health.
Like many accessibility issues, attitude and understanding make a big difference. We want to enable access to civic life by encouraging service providers and businesses to become ‘LightAware’.
Being ‘LightAware’ means knowing what lighting you have, being willing to listen to someone’s lighting needs and creating a plan to accommodate them.
What is LightAware going to do?
There is so much work to be done:
- Create a world-class, clear and accessible website, including medical journals, case studies, peer-reviewed scientific papers, press and media from around the world, correspondence with policy makers and a forum.
- Commission translation so that research and information from other countries is available to an English-language speaking audience
- Compile a directory of ‘LightAware’ businesses and services
- Commission scientific research
- Award a prize to stimulate investigative journalism on the subject
- Lobby policy makers in Scotland, the UK, and Europe to consider the needs of light sensitive people
- Establish a bulb exchange to ensure the remaining stocks of incandescent bulbs reach those that critically need them
- Commission a film to tell the stories of how individual lives are affected.
In this first stage of fundraising, we’re
hoping to raise £10,000 to research and compile the information, create a professional, comprehensive and
authoritative website, and to establish the organisation.
Beyond that, the more we make, the more we can do…