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Are LED Lights Safe?

por Jan Rendon (2019-08-07)


den ledAre LED Lights Safe?
LED lights are being recommended as energy-saving replacements for incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs, therefore, would appear to be on their way out of the consumer home to reduce household expenses. But energy isn't the only factor when determining which bulb to use in your home: you also have to consider its safety. And LED lights have some safety issues associated with them, according to CNET News.
Contains Harmful Metals
LED lights contain potentially dangerous metals that can be very harmful to humans if they are exposed to them. Lead and arsenic are toxic materials found in some LED Christmas lights, as well as car brakes and headlights, according to CNET News. In fact, the University of California, Irvine, conducted a study that determined that some red, low-intensity LED lights possessed as much as eight times the level of lead allowed by California standards, and 35 times the level allowed by federal regulations.
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Breakage Exposure
LED lights are potentially unsafe to you and the environment if you are exposed to the hazardous waste they can contain. When a light-emitting diode light breaks — such as when there is a vehicle collision — lead, arsenic or copper could escape, according to CNET News. So those dispatched to clean up such scenes should wear protective gear. Masks and gloves should also be worn when cleaning up breakage of LED lights in the home. According to University of California, Irvine, lead and arsenic — and other metals found in LED bulbs, and the other components of these lights — have already been linked to kidney disease, hypertension, neurological damage and different types of cancers.


Disposal Exposure
Improperly disposing of broken LEDs that no longer have a useful life also pose safety risks. They still can contain lead, arsenic or other harmful metals even though they no longer work enough to light your home or office. That remaining metal still has the potential to be hazardous to you and the surrounding environment. For example, copper — which is found in some LED lights — poses a danger to fish, lakes and rivers, according to University of California, Irvine. But LED lights are not currently classified as toxic, and they are disposed of in landfills despite their potential for harm.
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Significance
Advanced testing of products for environmental health impact should precede their introduction as an alternative product, such as LED lights in place of incandescent bulbs, according to Oladele Ogunseitan, the chair of UC Irvine's Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention. "LEDs are touted as the next generation of lighting. But as we try to find better products that do not deplete energy resources or contribute to global warming, we have to be vigilant about the toxicity hazards of those marketed as replacement," Ogunseitan said.
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With a growing need and awareness of energy efficiency, many household fixtures have been redesigned to fit a green model. One of the first steps toward energy efficient homes was the halogen light bulb, which offered the same amount of light as the traditional incandescent bulb, but for a fraction of the energy. Recent developments in lighting technology have led to the use of LED’s (light emitting diodes) in household bulbs, which are able to consume a fraction of the already efficient halogen bulb. Making the switch to LED bulbs is a very straightforward task, and can be completed by anyone.

Turn off light (if not already off) and allow time to cool to room temperature.

Carefully grip the halogen bulb and gently twist it counter-clockwise until it can be pulled from the light socket. These bulbs can be stored for later use or discarded.

Insert the new LED bulb into the socket and gently turn it clockwise until tight. Turn the light on to make sure the new bulb is working properly and is the proper strength, replace as necessary.
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Repeat steps 1 through 3 on remaining light sources.
Plug in your string of Christmas lights. You should be sure to plug them into an inside outlet for this test, since you do not want external factors like outdoor temperature affecting the outcome.

Allow the lights to warm up for about 10 minutes. You can simply leave them coiled on a step stool or chair while they warm up. If you want, you can take this time to note if any bulbs are out or missing.

Put your thumb directly on top of a bulb. If it is almost hot to the touch, it will be an incandescent bulb. If it is almost cool or barely warm to the touch, it will be an LED light. Once you know what type of lights you have, you can proceed with your Christmas decorating and be sure that all your replacement bulbs are the right type. The small, incandescent lights will never give off enough heat to burn skin, so while you should be cautious, there is no reason to fear getting burned.