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This article is the author’s final published version in Clocks and Sleep, Volume 4, Issue 4, November 2022, Pages 633 - 657.

The published version is available at Copyright © Gibbons et al.


Introduction: In 2009, the World Health Organization identified vehicle crashes, both injury-related and fatal, as a public health hazard. Roadway lighting has long been used to reduce crashes and improve the safety of all road users. Ocular light exposure at night can suppress melatonin levels in humans. At sufficient light levels, all visible light wavelengths can elicit this response, but melatonin suppression is maximally sensitive to visible short wavelength light. With the conversion of roadway lighting to solid state sources that have a greater short wavelength spectrum than traditional sources, there is a potential negative health impact through suppressed melatonin levels to roadway users and those living close to the roadway. This paper presents data on the impact of outdoor roadway lighting on salivary melatonin in three cohorts of participants: drivers, pedestrians, and those experiencing light trespass in their homes.

Methods: In an outdoor naturalistic roadway environment, healthy participants (N = 29) each being assigned to a cohort of either pedestrian, driver, or light trespass experiment, were exposed to five different solid state light sources with differing spectral emissions and one no lighting condition. Salivary melatonin measurements were made under an average roadway luminance of 1.0 cd/m2 (IES RP-18 Roadway Lighting Requirements for expressway roads) with a corneal melanopic Equivalent Daylight Illuminances (EDI) ranging from 0.22 to 0.86 lux.

Results: The results indicate that compared to the no roadway lighting condition, the roadway light source spectral content did not significantly impact salivary melatonin levels in the participants in any of the cohorts.

Conclusions: These data show that recommended levels of street lighting for expressway roads do not elicit an acute suppression of salivary melatonin and suggest that the health benefit of roadway lighting for traffic safety is not compromised by an acute effect on salivary melatonin.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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