Light and health
The health risks associated with exposure to visible light are well known in the case of, for example, prolonged exposure to intense radiation sources (arc welding without eye protection, gazing directly at the sun without the appropriate sunglasses, etc.). The development of new light sources (LED) or new technologies (3D) currently raises the question of their impact on eyesight, especially for those who are most vulnerable, such as children, and in particular during the period when eyesight is in the development phase, as well as issues relating to long-term consequences. See the Agency’s work in this area.
Since the 2000s, in the context of energy-saving policies and technological developments, LEDs have become commonplace lighting solutions, and the number of LED objects has been steadily increasing. ANSES had conducted a number of expert assessments to better understand the effects of LEDs and of blue light on health, and to provide recommendations for the public authorities in order to protect the public.
The European Parliament Directive (2005/32/EC) on ecodesign requirements for energy-using products provides for improvement of the energy performance of certain consumer products. Electric lighting falls within the scope of the Directive and incandescent lamps for domestic lighting are therefore to be gradually phased out between 2009 and 2017. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), also known as “energy-saving lamps”, or other more energy-efficient sources of lighting such as LED lamps may in time replace these older products. In this regard, the Agency was approached by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) in 2008 and by the Ministries for Consumer Affairs, Health and the Environment in 2011, and asked to assess human exposure to the electromagnetic fields emitted by these lamps.
The last few years have seen the rapid development of new audiovisual technologies in stereoscopic 3D, commonly known as "3D". The substantial increase in the supply of films available in 3D at the cinema over the last ten years has been followed by a developing range of 3D televisions, games consoles and mobile phones. Considering the expanding offer of these applications, particularly those intended for the general public, and the emergence of prevention messages aimed at restricting the use of these consoles to children over the age of six years, the consumer protection association "Robin des Bois" asked ANSES in 2011 to analyse the scientific data on the risks associated with the use of 3D games consoles for children. In view of the lack of data then available, ANSES decided to issue an internal request to assess the health risks related to all 3D technologies.
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