LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Downtown Albemarle deserves better lights

Published 4:20 pm Friday, February 3, 2023

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I was pleased 25 years ago when City Manager Ray Allen replaced the ugly freeway lights in downtown Albemarle with ornate teardrop lights.

Unfortunately, several years ago the City made the mistake of relamping these lights with bad LED bulbs that have created an unappealing and unhealthy atmosphere downtown at night.

The solution is to replace these bad LED bulbs with good LED bulbs — bulbs that radiate an appealing, welcoming light.

The teardrop lights are currently equipped with 5000 degree Kelvin bulbs that produce a stark “chilly” light. The City should replace these with 2,700 degree Kelvin bulbs whose “warm” light mimics the color of incandescent light. Residents will prefer the “warm” bulbs. More and more cities are switching to 2,700 degree and 3,000 degree LED bulbs. These bulbs would make Albemarle’s central business district significantly more hospitable and inviting after dark.

The 5,000 degree bulbs emit a bluish light that causes health problems for people and animals. The American Medical Association has released a troubling report on them. Here’s an excerpt: “In June the AMA declared [certain] LED streetlights a public health risk. According to the group, the strong bluish light interferes with the production of the hormone melatonin, causing sleep disorders in humans. Studies further suggest that excessive exposure to LED light at night increases the risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. LEDs also confuse nocturnal species of wildlife and disrupt migratory birds.”

Lighting expert Stephanie Todd of the International Dark-Sky Association recommends 2,700 degree LED bulbs and argues against any bulbs “cooler” than (above) 3,000 degree. Her advice is “Aim for below 3,000 degree.” Albemarle would be wise to replace the 5,000 degree bulbs downtown with 2,700 degree bulbs.

Barry Williams
St. Louis, Missouri