AWA NEWS: “Healthy Lighting” Series – Part 4 of 7

AWA NEWS: “Healthy Lighting” Series – Part 4 of 7

Utilizing Latent Properties of Light (Part 1)

It is well established, scientifically and empirically, that light triggers critical physiological and psychological responses within human beings. Since most of us spend most of our lives in the built environment, the level and quality of light within these buildings have real implications for our health and wellness. As we become more aware of light’s implications on our physiological and psychological selves, and as technology affords a greater range of options, the questions we ask at AWA are “How do we translate this information into buildable lighting specifications?” and “How do we incorporate knowledge available empirically and in the laboratory into our built environment, and get it built right?” We at AWA, have been developing the specifications for these kinds of lighting solutions so that they actually get implemented in projects. We are listing the variables connected to the problem and the possible solutions that we have developed.

Below we are sharing the first four of nine Latent Properties of Light. Stay tuned for the remaining properties in our next “Healthy Lighting” Series newsletter.

Abhay M Wadhwa
Design Principal  l  CEO
AWA Lighting Designers

Tote (AWA Project)

1. Incorporate Biophilic Patterns Using Light: 
A constant disconnection from natural environments can negatively affect your mental health. This is an ongoing problem existing in our society today, as most of our life is spent indoors, continually being bombarded by the dirty energy given off by the electronic devices that we are constantly connected to.

Appropriate lighting aids in reducing stress, increasing tranquility, and responding to the desire for contact with nature within healthcare facilities. This can be reinforced through the use of natural patterns such as cloud movement, ocean waves, and foliage patterns that can create a visual connection to nature in an enclosed environment. The movement of light over time can also help in alleviating the stress brought about from artificial lighting [1,3,21].

Soul-X Pula (AWA Project)

2. Combat Stress with Color and Sound: 
Alternate methods to treat stress or anxiety without medication or to improve mood and focus need to be made easily accessible for those who experience stress. Color therapy, or chromotherapy, is the use of color in various forms for the purpose of creating balance and health in the human system. Colors are used to trigger the release of neurochemicals in the brain. One example is the utilization of a rain chandelier, which can help in creating a calm and tranquil environment, by using subtle insertions of color and sound [8,10,17]. 

Colored Lenses

3. Energy Field Dissonance/Disruptive Harmonics: 
Our bodies are constantly being bombarded with electromagnetic frequencies. The skin is a good absorber of energy; therefore, constant exposure to EMF can also lead to biochemical changes to one’s skin and contribute to headaches and public anxiety [6]. All lighting circuits connected to a building’s main electricity create electric fields all the time, even when the lights are switched off. Electromagnetic frequencies, or EMF, are a result of the LED power supply switching the supplied AC voltage into a DC voltage. Achieving such results in a circuit with inductance produces an electric field around it. In many cases, the lamp fixture is plastic, which does not block transmission of the field [12]. As a result, the field can interfere with electrical products around them, even pacemakers or neurological stimulators [6]. One solution is the use of chandeliers made of organic materials and crystals such as orgonite in individual patient rooms. Organic materials like these have been found to protect people from EMF radiation. It can be used to attract and promote the free flow of positive light energy and can decrease the amount of negative, human-made, energy from today’s technology so that patients can exist in a healthy state of being [22].

Holland Tunnel (AWA Project)

4. Radio Frequency Interference (RFI): 
The rapid current switching of sensitive audio and radio equipment may cause radio frequency interference or an audible buzzing noise. Any sensitive equipment that is in close proximity to this wiring can pick up the RFI and generate noise into its system. RFI can also cause flickering of lights. Flicker performance has been found to be related to the LED power electronic driver. Whether visible or invisible, flicker can trigger headaches, migraines, fatigue, epilepsy, and other neurological responses and has even been found to degrade reading performance [18]. Another health concern regarding RFI is that skin is susceptible to absorbing radio frequencies when overexposed to it. For the average person, the majority of symptoms caused by exposure to ambient levels of radio frequency are caused by biochemical changes in the skin [23].

Methods to block harmful magnetic and electronic energy fields from lighting hardware from entering into our buildings and from traveling from room to room should be incorporated into the design of health facilities. This can be handled through the use of light fixtures with integrated filters to reduce the emission of radio frequencies.

1. 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design. William Browning. 2014.
2. A New Approach to Understanding the Impact of Circadian Disruption on Human Health. Mark S Rea, Mariana G. Figueiro. 2008.
3. Biophilia: Does Visual Contact with Nature Impact on Health and Well-Being? Bjørn Grinde and Grete Grindal Patil. 2009.
4. Daylight and Productivity: A Possible Link to Circadian Regulation. Mariana G. Figueiro, Mark S. Rea, Anne C. Rea. 2013.
5. Designing Lighting Systems Tuned to Circadian Rhythms. Ute Besenecker. 2017.
6. Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Intermediate Frequencies (IF). World Health Organization. 2005.
7. Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Base stations and wireless technologies. World Health Organization. 2006.
8. Emerging Nature-Based Parameters for Health and Well-Being in the Built Environment. Catherine O. Ryan. 2014.
9. The Health Benefits of Human-Centric Lighting Using LEDs. Yoelit H. Hiebert.
10. How Do I Eliminate Stress with Color? Dr. Edward Group DC. 2015.
11. Impact of Light on Outcomes in Healthcare Settings. Anjali Joseph. 2006.
12. LED lamps interfering with radio transmissions. Sarah Bailey. 2013.
13. Light Early in the Day: An Important Part of Your Sleep Routine. Dr. Michael Breus. 2017.
14. Light Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia: Past, Present, and Future. Nicholas Hanford and Mariana Figueiro. 2013.
15. Night Shift Work, Light at Night, and Risk of Breast Cancer. Scott Davis. 2001.
16. Pineal melatonin level disruption in humans due to electromagnetic fields and ICNIRP limits. The University of Melbourne, Australia. 2013.
17. The Power of Color in the Healthcare Environment. Laura Guido-Clark Design, LLC.
18. Proposing Measures of Flicker in the Low Frequencies for Lighting Applications. Brad Lehman. 2011.
19. Red Light Therapy Benefits, Research & Mechanism of Action. Dr.Josh Axe.
20. Research Recap. Mariana Figueiro. February 2003.
21. What is Biophilic Design? Oliver Heath Design.
22. What is Orgone? Orgite Creations.
23. Wireless Lighting Controls Offer Flexibility And Cost Savings in Commercial Buildings. Craig Dilouie. 2011

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