Cheh to Fight Blue LED Lights

DDOT Wants to Replace DC Street Lights With LEDs

Blue LED light.

The District Department of Transportation's (DDOT) plan to convert all District street lights to LED installations has many Capitol Hill residents seeing red — or in this case, blue.

LED street lights produce more light in the blue part of the light spectrum. But blue spectrum light causes more glare, which can be a visual hazard while driving, and has the potential to disrupt sleep cycles, according to a Report issued by the American Medical Association last year.

"I'm sufficiently concerned that there may be some issue that I want to have a hearing about it," said Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Councilmember and the Chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment. "We need “a full and complete hearing so that we can make some determination about this.”

Cheh has scheduled a public round table on the Streetlight Modernization Project at 11 a.m. on May 3 in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). 

LED street lights have many advantages, though. They are more energy-efficient and last up to 20 years. 

“One of the benefits of the LED lights is that they last a long time and save energy and I’m all for that,” Cheh added, "but not at the risk of health or quality of life.”

Most of the LED lights being installed are 4000 Kelvin units, which emit more glare and more blue-spectrum light than units in the lower range.

On April 5, Cheh, sent a letter to Leif Dormsjo, director of the DDOT asking for "an immediate moratorium on the further installation of LED street lights in the District."

Dormsjo said that DDOT is very supportive of the hearing.

“We’re anxiously preparing for the meeting,” he said, “and hope that the community members have a chance to participate not just in terms of providing testimony but also listening to the folks who have expertise in this area.”

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