Copy
View this email in your browser

LightAware Winter Newsletter 2021

Welcome to the LightAware Winter Newsletter

LightAware was founded to ask how artificial light affects human health and wellbeing and to draw attention to the impact of the dramatic changes in artificial lighting. It’s a question that becomes more prominent at this time of year, as the nights draw in and we spend more and more time under artificial light.

There has been a marked increase in the volume of correspondence from people suffering pain and ill health when exposed to artificial lighting. This may be partly because LightAware is becoming better known, but it also indicates more and more that something has gone wrong with lighting. We are getting ever more requests for LightAware cards from people who find lighting a barrier to access in public buildings.

We are working hard to liaise with the UK government to ensure access to alternative lighting for those who need it (see below). Because of the timing of this legislation, we have decided to focus on this and postpone our membership plans until early next year.

We will be in touch then with news of our new membership package so that you can get more involved and help LightAware raise awareness of this underreported issue.

Christmas lighting has been in the media recently, with complaints about the contribution to light pollution and climate change through wasted energy.

In addition to these problems, such lighting can make for a difficult festive period for light-sensitive people. Most Christmas lighting is now LED and problems with this can be exacerbated when it is over-bright, blue or flashing. As we approach the season of goodwill, we ask people to consider the impact of unnecessary light on their neighbours as well as the planet.



The 'Halogen ban'

New regulation – the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling requirements for Lighting Products ­– came into force in the UK on 1 October 2021.  
This means that halogen light bulbs will be phased out, with fluorescent light bulbs to follow, leaving us with LED as the only artificial lighting available in the long term.


A nightmare scenario
LightAware is extremely concerned about this nightmare scenario for those who cannot tolerate LED lighting. As other forms of lighting are phased out, some people will be facing a permanent lockdown, unable to access education, employment, recreation, places of worship, public transport and even the streets at night.

When incandescent lighting was first phased out, politicians from all parties promised that there would always be alternative forms of lighting available for those that need it. LightAware later campaigned for an exemption to the European legislation to ensure this promise was enshrined in law. 

This exemption has been carried into UK law, and the government department BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has stated that:

“ there is an exemption built into the legislation to allow people who are photo-sensitive to purchase alternative light sources via medical  prescriptions. Non-LED light sources such as incandescent bulbs will continue to be provided specifically for use by photo-sensitive consumers. These can be obtained from pharmacies and other authorised selling points such as suppliers of disability products.”  

How will the exemption work?
However, LightAware supporters have told us that their GPs and pharmacists are unaware of these provisions. We have written to representatives of BEIS calling for clarity on this process and have received the response that the issue is being given ‘due consideration’ but without any details yet. The current focus is on planning to raise energy performance standards from 120 lumens/watt from 2023 and 140 lumens/watt from 2025.

LightAware has responded again asking for clarification, including whether there will be prescription charges or whether this will be covered by the NHS. Also, whether the exemption will be available to employers to provide access to workplaces.

In November, LightAware will be attending a general stakeholder meeting with BEIS on the Energy-related Products Framework, to draw attention to these issues.

This issue urgently needs attention. We are asking LightAware supporters to write to political representatives explaining your concern for the human rights of people adversely affected by LED lighting, and including your personal situation if you suffer adverse effects from LED lighting. If you are affected and need alternative light bulbs to light your home, please raise the issue with your GP and let us know how they respond.
Please ask what action is being taken by BEIS and the department of health to ensure the exemption in the regulations is actually meaningful and GPs can write prescriptions for suitable light bulbs.



LightAware around the world - New Zealand

Dr. Nina M, in New Zealand has sent this summary of the lighting situation. “NZ is beautiful and green but also has become a sea of LED – causing quasi-solitary confinement, loss of vision and pain for me”

LED lighting began being introduced into public buildings approximately five years ago, making access to supermarkets, libraries, medical practices, hospitals etc. potentially non-viable for people who experience migraine, headache and seizures from LED.  About 80% of Street lighting throughout the country has been converted to LED, and this continues to be installed.

Advertising campaigns on television and radio have encouraged the public to purchase LED lighting for their homes (promoting this as economical, good for the environment and as a superior source of illumination) over the last three years.

Most of the population have now changed their lighting to an LED source.

It is not mandatory to use LED lighting in New Zealand, and incandescent bulbs are still available in supermarkets, comprising 5% of stock currently compared to 24 months prior with approximately 50:50 assortment.

Australia has made LED illumination mandatory and a recent conversation with an electric company representative indicated that New Zealand may likely follow suit. The representative also said that incandescent bulbs would no longer be manufactured and therefore not be available for purchase in New Zealand.

Upon contacting medical professionals from various specialties (neurology, ophthalmology) none had any cases to report where patients had described problems with LED lighting.

From a personal perspective, the move to LED lighting in New Zealand became evident to me in a gradual way with changes in use of LED computer screens in the workplace about five years ago, then the use of LED card payment machines in shops, followed by public buildings becoming inaccessible with the conversion to LED lighting. The home environment has become affected by the lighting from surrounding houses, which are using evermore LED illumination inside and outside, both day and night. Many appliances in people’s homes are LED-driven, power sockets are often illuminated with blue LED and LED surveillance sensors are present in some homes with alarm systems.

Daytime LED lighting is very visible in a multitude of ways, leaving me to seek out wildlife reserves, natural parks and bush settings, but even these have their limitations. People wear/carry LED devices now as a matter of routine. LED lighting has become ubiquitous.


 

LightAware around the world - Germany

Our Ambassador in Germany, Maximilian, who runs the group ‘Lichtgesundheit’ (light health) has sent three petitions to the European Parliament. On 9 November, the EU’s Petitions Committee of the European Parliament met to discuss all three petitions.

The first petition detailed an individual’s experience of being extremely impaired by the light from LED and fluorescent lamps, which meant they could no longer carry out everyday tasks without specialised disability support. The petition called for tighter regulation of flicker and more detailed labelling on other aspects of light that affect health.

The second petition called to attention that people’s light needs are not taken into account in terms of accessibility. LEDs are now ubiquitous in streets, traffic and vehicle lights, as well as digital advertising, creating a barrier to some people being able to access work, medical care, education or shopping. It highlighted the fact that ‘incandescent lamp on prescription’ is in the legislation but not yet available in Germany. Help was called for to address these issues in the design of lamps, the availability of incandescent lighting and the creation of accessibility.

The last petition called for the reintroduction of near-infrared in artificial lighting to mitigate the negative impacts of blue-rich lighting.

The committee called to keep this petition open for further discussion, to find possibilities for funding for specific research, and to refer it to the EU’s IMCO – the committee responsible for legislative oversight, including consumer protection, to look at the consumer rights and health aspects.

“We are seeing more use of LED light systems and with the abandonment of incandescent lighting, experts in medicine, ophthalmologists and opticians do raise alerts concerning the damage these can cause. We’re especially looking into possible damage that continued exposure can cause. We need to move forward with labelling. We’ve seen a reduction of blue light used in LEDs but given the lack of studies and clear data we need to be alert to what could happen…”

C. Maestre Martin de Almagro, MEP

For more information, see:

https://lichtgesundheit.jimdofree.com/2021/11/05/treatment-3-of-our-petition-procedures-in-the-session-of-the-european-parliament-on-09-11-2021/



LightAware around the world - Ireland

LightAware has issued a detailed statement on the health effects of external LED lighting on sensitive individuals, which has been brought to the Irish government’s Joint Committee on Disability Matters.

This follows complaints to politicians and traffic departments on the use of very bright LED lighting in traffic lights and road signs. The statement explains how LED differs from other forms of lighting and that local councils have a duty of care to find out, through a health impact assessment, whether residents will be adversely affected by such external lighting.

We are awaiting a response from the Joint Committee on Disability Matters and urge anyone in Ireland who is struggling with lighting to contact their TDs and MEPs to ensure greater awareness of these issues.

Telephone mutual support group

People with light sensitivity can often feel isolated and LightAware aims to provide those with an opportunity to have informal discussions and friendly chat in a safe environment. LightAware facilitates a telephone mutual support group on Tuesday mornings from 10am to 11am. The aim of the support group is to provide a place to discuss light sensitivity and to provide sufferers with a safe place to talk to others in similar situations.

The group is currently held weekly, however from the 7th December 2021 it will take place monthly, on the first Tuesday of every month ie 4th Jan, 2nd Feb, 2nd March etc. 

If you are interested in joining the group or would like to know more, please contact us at info@lightaware.org and we will pass your details on to the group facilitator.


The challenges of a light-sensitive life can sometimes seem insurmountable, and the tiny triumphs of others offer some hope and solidarity. Here are a few recent examples that we have received, where a 'LightAware' official has made all the difference:

The Courthouse tearooms, Skegness
"My sister - who is also light sensitive - and I ate here with our Dad and Uncle in August. We phoned ahead to check the situation with the lighting and the manager was so kind and obliging, when we arrived he had turned the lights off in a snug area just off the dining room, which was perfect for us. The carvery was delicious and the cheesecake that was to die for! Thank you to the manager and staff for accommodating us."

Grumpy's Pet Shop, Cambridge
"When I got a new puppy I wanted to choose her bed and lead and some toys myself, but couldn't access any of the pet shops due to the lighting. My daughter would go in for me and hold things up for me to see. She explained why to the owner, who offered to switch the lights off whenever I wanted to come in. It's great to be able to choose my own treats for my pup!"
 

Whitley Bay Caravan Park
"I have always loved swimming but it has been increasingly difficult to find a pool that is not surrounded by (often unnecessary) electric lighting that makes me ill. It now can even appear on the bottom of pools.
Whitley Bay Caravan Park has an indoor heated pool. Some of the lighting around it is LED and appears only to exist for some decorative purpose. When my difficulty with LED lights was explained to the staff they not only turned off the LED lights, but also allowed me to enter the pool area via the fire escape to avoid lighting in the entrance, and were totally gracious and uncomplaining. Full marks for being 'Light Aware' and arranging things so that I can start swimming again!"



Fundraising 

Cartridges
LightAware has joined the 'recycle4charity' scheme and you can help us to raise money for our charity by sending your old ink cartridges to be recycled. It's free to send cartridges by printing a postage label from the website or requesting a collection box which is also free to return. Please visit our page Register (recycle4charity.co.uk) to register and help us to save the environment and raise funds. Thank you.


Donation reminder whilst you shop online
If you use Google Chrome as a browser you can load the ‘Give as you live’ donation reminder.
It automatically registers that you are a LightAware supporter, which means you'll never miss a chance to raise free donations from shopping websites for LightAware. Just go to

https://www.giveasyoulive.com/donation-reminder to install it. 

We have signed up to two online schemes which donate a percentage of takings to charity, with no extra cost to yourself. If our supporters shop regularly in this way, it would make a big difference to what we are able to achieve. All donations will strengthen LightAware’s capacity to raise awareness about the effect of artificial light on human health and wellbeing. Here’s how to do it:

Give as you Live www.giveasyoulive.com
Give as you Live is an online fundraising platform allowing users to shop at over 4,100 top stores and raise free funds for charity. The store pays Give as you Live a percentage of your total purchase price in commission and of this, 50% is passed on to charity.

Bullet point action list:

  • Go to: www.giveasyoulive.com Log in (or sign up free) on your device
  • Choose a charity to support (type in LightAware in the search box)
  • Select LightAware
  • Search for the store you want to shop at using the search facility
  • Once you’ve found the store, click on the ‘Shop & Raise’ button 
  • You will be then directed to the stores website where you can shop as normal
  • Once you’ve made your purchase, the store will confirm the transaction with Give as you Live
  • You’ll then receive an email confirming how much you’ve raised for LightAware!

If you use Google Chrome as a browser you can load the ‘Give as you live’ donation reminder.

It automatically registers that you are a LightAware supporter, which means you'll never miss a chance to raise free donations from shopping websites for LightAware. Just go to
https://www.giveasyoulive.com/donation-reminder to install it.

 

Amazon Smile smile.amazon.co.uk
When the customer shops with Amazon using Amazon Smile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) of eligible purchases to the charitable organisation of your choice - LightAware! So basically, 50 pence for every £100 can go directly to LightAware at no cost to the customer. It doesn’t seem a great deal of money, but it will soon add up, especially once the Christmas shopping frenzy begins.

Bullet point action list:

  • Go to: /smile.amazon.co.uk
  • On the right hand side of the welcome page, type in LightAware in the entry field
  • Press Search
  • Select LightAware on the results page
  • Tick the box to say you understand to make use of the charitable donation, you must shop at Amazon via the SmileAmazon route
  • Then shop! It’s as simple as that!

Print copies of the LightAware Newsletter

We are very aware that some light-sensitive people struggle with computer and phone screens and that our online newsletter is not appropriate for all.
If you need a print version posted to you, or know somebody who does, or you would prefer a plain text version to be sent by email, please let us know on
info@lightaware.org

Copyright © 2021 LightAware, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp