By Tim Clarke 03/05 Updated: 03/05 15:10
THE BRIGHTNESS of lights fitted to bollards on part of Worcester's riverside may be dimmed amid claims they could damage young children's eyes.
The county council has agreed to look at making alterations to the LED (light-emitting diode) lights along Diglis Parade and Kleve Walk, which were fitted as part of wider improvements to the riverfront last year.
Council bosses were prompted to act after former scientist Michael Arnold, from St Peter's, got in contact with the county council last autumn to voice his concerns.
He claimed the lights could damage young children's eyesight if they stared into them for an extended period of time.
After receiving his complaint the council commissioned further tests by an independent laboratory, which confirmed they met all necessary British Standards and European Codes of safety.
But the tests did show there might be a 'slight risk' if a young child in a pushchair was left 20 centimetres or closer to the lights and allowed to look directly at them for more than 100 seconds.
A council spokesman said this was because children's eyes were more sensitive than adults.
Mr Arnold also wrote to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) who referred his concerns to the Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE), which agreed the lights were probably too bright.
Mr Arnold said: "I believe if a child does run up and stare into these lights at close quarters their eyes will be damaged. It is a real risk."
He said the council could address safety concerns and ensure the path was still well lit by replacing every other bollard with a taller column and fitting diffusers on the remaining bollard lights.
John O'Hagan, head of the Laser and Optical Radiation Dosimetry Group at CRCE, said: "Having seen some of the data from the assessment the council commissioned, we have concluded the lights are probably too bright and have advised the council of this."
"Mitigating this problem is relatively straightforward - diffusers could be fitted to spread the beam and reduce the brightness or the current going into the lights could be turned down. Either measure would reduce risks to path users."
A council spokesman said despite the extremely low risk they were looking into whether alterations might be possible to reduce the risk even further.
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