Town leaders discuss LED light improvements

Town leaders discuss LED light improvements

KURE BEACH, NC (WECT) - Kure Beach town leaders met Tuesday to discuss LED shields that would help with LED problems concerning turtles and resident complaints.

The shields cost around $23,000 per year for installation. Leaders in Kure Beach hope to install the shields on turtle lights for now, but nothing has officially been decided.

A study from the American Medical Association concludes high intensity LED street lights, brighter than 3000 kelvins, are too bright and may have an impact on our health.

LED lights release mostly blue light, as opposed to the warmer glow of older traditional bulbs. To the naked eye, they may look bright white.

Now, the American Medical Associations say those lights can create a glare making it harder to see in certain circumstances.

The AMA also suggests that LED lights higher than 3000 kelvins may impact our sleep and interrupt body's ability to create melatonin.

LED lights 3000 kelvins or softer are recommended.

Kure Beach Mayor Emilie Swearingen said harsher light has an impact on local wildlife. The town's beach park was designed with the softer amber LEDs to help the region's turtle population.

"We are always very mindful of the environment when it comes to our wildlife," Swearingen said. "We never take that for granted, and do what's necessary to make sure they can thrive."

Duke Energy has recently been upgrading many street lights in coastal Carolina with these more energy efficient LED bulbs.

Representatives said they've replaced more than 5,500 in Wilmington, 420 in Wrightsville Beach, 670 in Carolina Beach and 175 in Kure Beach.

Those street lamps are being fitted with 4000 kelvin bulbs, long considered the industry standard.

Duke Energy representatives with the public information office said the AMA study is currently under review and Duke Energy remains committed to customer safety.

In Kure Beach, the change has been noticed. Now the town is monitoring the brightness of the LEDs along the nearby street to ensure those new lights don't interfere with the turtle habitat.

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