Warwick LED street lights concerning for some

A new plan to replace street lights in Warwick is drawing some concern as some people believe the new LED lights pose adverse effects on humans as well as the environment.

Right now the city pays rent to National Grid for the street lights and according to Council President Steve Merolla, it costs around $1 million a year.

The plan would mean Warwick would have control of its street lights, hoping to bring in revenue through 5G technology by renting out telephone poles to providers like Verizon.

“If we were to take over the street lighting program it would be a great benefit to the citizens because we could possibly reduce the cost and also bring in revenue,” Merolla said. “I think it’s a win-win for everyone.”

But Merolla has received emails along with other members of the City Council where some believe these LED lights are harmful to humans, as well as animals.

In 2016, the American Medical Association wrote that certain levels of LED street lights could pose adverse effects.

They said the blue light emissions could potentially make roadways more hazardous and the lights could also suppress melatonin, sleep rhythms and patterns, and could even lead to obesity.

The AMA also states the lights could impact wildlife that is dependent on a dark environment.

But these issues are something the city has been looking at.

“Through a lot of studies, we’d typically like to keep it below 3000 kelvin, which is a safe area for blue light emission,” Merolla said. “If we follow those guidelines and continue to update that we should be fine.”

Some people like Anne Smith are concerned about the lights.

“I don’t know if I would be for it,” she said. “Having these lights could affect my health going on in the future.”

The project has been signed off by the mayor and will be slowly implemented.

Merolla is guessing it could take somewhere between five and ten years for the project to finish.