IES Responds to AMA Outdoor Lighting Recommendations

In 2016, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced guidelines encouraging restrictions on the spectral properties of outdoor and roadway lighting, based on CSAPH Report 2-A-16 from their Council on Science and Public Health.

The Illuminating Engineering Society recently completed a review of the report and guidelines and issued Position Statement PS-09-17, joining with the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD). IES approached AMA to revisit the guidelines and has stated it will continue to work with AMA to address its concerns.

From PS-09-17:

“The IES respectfully disagrees with the 2016 AMA Policy H-135.927 Statement 2 and the first sentence of Statement 3 specific to limitations on spectral content for outdoor area and roadway lighting. We want to emphasize, that while the principal motivators for the AMA report are understandable, the CSAPH 2-A-16 report filed as background for these statements does not provide sufficient evidence to substantiate these statements, and a more comprehensive analysis of the public health impacts of outdoor and roadway lighting should be considered prior to adopting policies that could have a negative effect on the safety of drivers and pedestrians.”


“The IES also disagrees with 2016 AMA Policy H-135.927 on the basis that Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) is inadequate for the purpose of evaluating possible health outcomes; and that the recommendations target only one component of light exposure (spectral composition) of what are well known and established multi-variable inputs to light dosing that affect sleep disruption, including the quantity of light at the retina of the eye and the duration of exposure to that light … The upper CCT limit of 3000 K contained in AMA Policy H-135.927 lacks scientific foundation and does not assure the public of any certainty of health benefit or risk avoidance.”

Click here to check out the full IES position statement.


  1. Barry Howard says:

    The AMA Policy H-135.927 document seemed hastily prepared and of little use in helping IES/CIE to codify Outdoor & Roadway Lighting. The omission of other visual and non-visual impacts beyond CCT discounts profound information of latest Optics research and Chronobiology. findings that indicate that we are just beginning to be able to act on intelligently. This is one Picture not yet in clear focus.

  2. Milena Simeonova says:

    I full heartedly support AMA statement, and consider their recommendation to use 3000K LEDs or warmer lighting during the night in our outdoor environments, is a timely if not overdue warning for people to protect their nighttime sleep and eye retinas from cool LEDs. AMA has not gone far enough in their warnings, for instance the multi-fringed multiple and fuzzy overlays of shadows from LED multi-chips street lights, overload our cognition and disassociate us from physical reality, where one leaf has one (not multiple) shadow.
    How can one disagree with AMA recommendations, without taking a closer look at hundreds of LED spectrometer measurements of LEDs that are above 3500K and cooler – these measurements show a disproportion between high Blue spike in the 450 nm frequencies (suppresses melatonin and photo-degrades the retina), followed with with a valley or gap of spectrum frequencies in the green (calming effect), and ending with a warm phosphors tail. Please read Physics…blue photons, energy release, photons density,etc to comprehend the severe effect of this Blue spike 450nm or below, where most energy is channeled in cool LED lights.
    If anything, AMA was subtle in their warning, but it was a good start, that our responsibility is first and foremost
    to do lighting for the People. If we live-up to the principle Do Not Harm, we will not put people in harms way with cool LEDs at night, while waiting to refine our research. And if we think that our research will discover more than
    our roots in Nature, or find new ways that Nature hasn’t – I have news – our bodies and health are and will remain connected with Nature and its cool mornings and warm light sunsets.Thank You to AMA for leading the way.

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