Hazardous Effects

  • Wout van Bommel


The hazardous effects of light discussed in this chapter are the adverse effects due to lamp flicker, blue light hazard and bright light at night.

Lamp flicker refers to the modulation in time of the light intensity of a lamp. All AC-operated electrical light sources have a time-modulated light output. Neurological adverse effects of time-modulated light described are epileptic seizures, migraines, headaches, eyestrain, a general feeling of malaise and a decrease of visual performance. A metric to characterise the severity of visible flicker, described in this chapter, is the short-time flicker severity, P st . A metric for another disturbing visible effect of lamp flicker, the stroboscopic effect, is described as the stroboscopic visibility measure, SVM.

The wavelength range of 400–500 nm of light associates with a relatively strong photochemical effect in retinal tissues. This range corresponds to blue light. The possible hazard associated with this visible wavelength range is therefore called “blue light hazard”. CIE has defined a system of blue light hazard risk groups for light sources. It is based on the action spectrum (sensitivity spectrum) for retinal damage risk by visible light of different wavelengths.

Bright light at night has the potential to disrupt the circadian rhythm which in turn could have adverse effects on health in the form of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, metabolic (diabetes and obesity) disorders and cancer. This chapter describes research in animals and epidemiological studies with humans to provide information about a possible link between cancer and bright light at night.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wout van Bommel
    • 1
  1. 1.Van Bommel Lighting ConsultantNuenenThe Netherlands

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