Tag Archives: Health

AWA NEWSFLASH: Abhay Wadhwa to Speak at AIA Miami Design+Technology Expo

Abhay Wadhwa to speak at AIA Miami’s Design + Technology Expo on Friday, September 23 2016.
He will be speaking on “The Unspoken Relationship Between Light and Health”. An extract from his talk:

“Light triggers critical physiological and psychological responses within human beings. The level and quality of light within the built environment has real implications on our health and wellness. As we become more aware of light’s implications on our health, and as technology affords us a greater range of options, we can develop a larger repertoire of design tools with which to positively impact our health and wellness.”

If you would like to register for the Expo, please click HERE.

AIA Miami Banner

AWA Healthy Lighting Studio
The Healthy Lighting Studio is located at AWA’s New York location, and is led by AWA’s Design Principal Abhay Wadhwa. Over the past 14 years, AWA has completed several healthcare projects, and the endeavor has always been to utilize the uplifting nuances of light to create evocative and healing spaces. We have focused intently on using light and lighting to improve the health and well-being of people, especially in healthcare and recuperative environments. If you would like more information on our Healthy Lighting Studio services, please contact us at newyork@awalightingdesigners.com or feel free to call Abhay directly.

Healthy Lighting Studio Banner 2016

Creating Sustainable Lighting Solutions

Bushwick Park: project by AWA Lighting Designers

Bushwick Park: project by AWA Lighting Designers

Over time, the architectural community has become increasingly invested in the realization of environmentally sustainable design, and this trend shows no sign of abating. This is a global movement. Sustainable solutions acting in a major metropolis can save building owners significantly on operational costs and cut back in vast quantities on the carbon emissions that would otherwise pervade. And, in other parts of the world, sustainable lighting solutions can make the difference between continuing one’s day, be that education, work or home tasks, or allowing darkness to swallow up needed hours of productivity. Thus, sustainability touches us all.

From low impact materials to energy efficiency, to design for reuse and recycling, there is much to be done. In this context, design connects architects with their partners and consultants, as they work toward their common goal of defining and creating structures that live up to the promise of sustainability. With architecture, technologies, materials and products all merge to create the tangible pieces of lighting design. In their collective application we see the final effects, and the success or failure of strategies and visions. How these pieces are put to use by installers and later by building occupants has tremendous importance on their visual comfort, efficiency performance, function and beauty that must be considered carefully from design inception.

Able to realize the vision of their architectural partners, lighting designers are critical members of the process. For, it is very true that one of the most efficient ways to reduce the overall carbon footprint of a structure is to amend its lighting design with smartly conceived and realized design. And, in the developing world, sustainable lighting nourishes the very essence of life. Thus, although it is just one piece of the puzzle, lighting has an outsized effect on sustainability. Understanding what is possible in this arena only serves to invigorate a practice and encourage new paradigms.

Light triggers critical physiological and psychological responses within human beings. And, since most of us spend the majority of our lives in the built environment, the level and quality of light within these buildings has real implications for our health and wellness. Luckily, today’s architect is armed with sophisticated structural options that allow for more lighting choices than at any point in architecture’s history. In today’s design world, it is no longer a question of whether to design with light in mind, but how to design with light in mind. As we become more aware of light’s implications on our physiological and psychological selves, and as technology affords a greater range of options, architects and their partners are left with an increased repertoire to draw from.  As it relates to health and wellness, the key points to consider are the quality, the quantity and the type of light being delivered within the space. 

Consider first how light comes into play in a health-oriented society. Many functions necessary for growth and well being such as breathing, sleeping, blood pressure, body temperature, appetite, moods, mental acuity, and the immune system are governed by the endocrine system, which is strongly impacted and affected by light, both natural & created by electric sources. There is also evidence suggesting that proper quantities of visually perceived light are needed for healthy functioning of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that controls motivation, learning, and creativity; the limbic system, the part of the brain that stores emotional impressions of the world; and the motor cortex and the brain stem, the parts of the brain that coordinate body movement and the maintenance of life.

Vortices of Energy


  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • A path through which the life energy “QI” flows to the body
  • 12 principal meridians divided into YIN and YAN groups, each associated with a region of the body



  • In Hindu metaphysical tradition, chakras are centers of life force, or vital energy
  • Respond to vital points on the physical body
  • Used in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism


Electromagnetic Radiation

Exposure to human-made electromagnetic fields (EMF) has increased over the past century. The widespread use of EMF sources has been accompanied by public debate about possible adverse effects on human health. As part of its charter to protect public health and in response to these concerns, the World Health Organization (WHO) established the International EMF Project to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects of EMF in the frequency range from 0 to 300 GHz. The EMF Project encourages focused research to fill important gaps in knowledge and to facilitate the development of internationally acceptable standards limiting EMF exposure.

Public concerns have ranged from possible effects of exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields (e.g. electricity supply including power lines) having frequencies between 0 and 300 Hz to possible effects of exposure to radio-frequency (RF) fields (e.g. microwave ovens and broadcast and other radio-transmission devices including mobile phones) having frequencies in the range 10 MHz – 300 GHz. A large body of scientific research in these two frequency ranges now exists. For the purpose of this document, the intermediate frequency (IF) region of the EMF spectrum is defined as being between the ELF and RF ranges; 300 Hz to 10 MHz. A relatively small number of studies has been conducted on the biological effects or health risks of IF fields. This is due, in part, to the fact that fewer types of devices produce fields in this frequency range. But because these devices now have a high consumer and industrial market penetration, it is important to evaluate their impact on human health. This information sheet addresses the known health effects of IF fields, and offers recommendations for further study.

Common sources of IF fields can be found in the following settings:

• Industry: Dielectric heater sealers, induction and plasma heaters, broadcast and communications transmitters,

• General public: Domestic induction cookers, proximity readers, electronic article surveillance systems and other anti-theft devices, computer monitors and television sets,

• Hospitals: MRI systems, electromagnetic nerve stimulators, electro-surgical units, and other devices for medical treatment,

• Military: Power units, submarine communication transmitters and high frequency (HF) transmitters.

• Except for medical diagnostic and treatment devices, levels of human exposure from IF devices normally fall below limits recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). However, workers in a few categories (e.g. operators of dielectric heater sealers and induction heaters, some military personnel and technicians working near high powered broadcast equipment) may be exposed to considerably higher levels of IF fields. Technicians working near high powered broadcast equipment) may be exposed to considerably higher levels of IF fields.

How EMF Affects the Human Body

• Several mechanisms, both thermal and non-thermal, by which electromagnetic (primarily electric) fields can interact with biological systems are well established. The limiting hazard will arise from the adverse effect (thermal or non-thermal) that has the lowest threshold under given exposure conditions. While strong fields in the upper IF range may cause thermal damage (a relatively slow process that requires tissue to be maintained at high temperatures for a given period of time), some of the most obvious hazards from acute exposure to electric currents in the body may occur through membrane excitation. This non-thermal mechanism results from changes in membrane potential induced by external fields and occurs, for example, in the stimulation of peripheral nerves and muscle cells. Another mechanism is electroporation, which is the reversible or irreversible disruption of cell membranes when a field induces excessive electrical potentials across them. This can provoke tissue injury through electric shock, but is also being investigated for therapeutic purposes by using short electric field pulses to make human tissues more permeable to drugs.

• External IF fields can induce these effects inside the human body but only at field strengths many times higher than typical environmental levels.

Reported Biological and Health Effects

Health benefits from electric and magnetic fields have been claimed since the 18th century, and pulsed EMFs in the IF range have found a place in modern medical practice for the treatment of bone healing and nerve stimulation and regeneration. However, concern has been expressed about possible health hazards associated with technology, both at home and in the workplace. These concerns include worker complaints of disturbances (e.g. swelling, prickling of fingers, headaches) and public anxiety about possible adverse health effects of IF fields from computer monitors and televisions. Types of research conducted so far have included:

Human studies: Until now, most epidemiological studies concerning IF exposure have focused on reproductive and ocular effects from the use of computer monitors. Several major reviews have concluded that these, with their extremely weak IF fields, do not constitute a threat to human health and that they do not interfere with reproductive processes or pregnancy outcomes. Also, no association between such exposure and eye abnormalities has been established. A large study on female radio and telegraph operators showed a slight increased risk of breast cancer. However, this group of workers is also exposed to many other factors that could explain this increased risk. The high degree of biological variability and the multitude of EMF parameters make it difficult to reach firm conclusions about the significance of any of these studies for human health. Some of the most important health hazards due to IF sources relate to indirect action of EMF. For example, EMF produced by electronic anti-theft systems may interfere with implanted electronic medical devices (e.g. pacemakers, neurological stimulators).

Laboratory studies: Few reported cellular studies using IF fields have show independently confirmed biological effects. Studies on mice have shown no morbidity, change in behavior or lymphoma development with exposure to low-strength magnetic field signals in the kHz range. Although a few studies of effects on reproduction and development of mice, rats, and chick embryos and a few other studies suggest the possibility of minor skeletal anomalies; overall there is no clear evidence for increased malformations.

Sleep Quality of Youth

Light triggers critical physiological and psychological responses within human beings. The level and quality of light within the built environment has real implications on our health and wellness as we become more aware of light’s implications on our health, we have a larger repertoire with which to impact a positive benefit on our health.


  • During the spring, late sunset and extended daylight exposure delays bedtime in teenagers
  • Increased exposure to early evening light delays the onset of nocturnal melatonin
  • Nocturnal melatonin: hormone that indicates to the body when it’s nighttime
  • Combine the delay in sleep with early school hours means many teens experience sleep deprivation, mood changes, increased risk of obesity and under performance at school


  • 16 students were given a daysimeter – a small device to measure an individual’s exposure to daily “circadian light”
  • Circadian light: the potential for light to suppress melatonin synthesis at night not how light stimulates the visual system
  • Experienced a delay in melatonin onset by an average 20 minutes in the spring relative to winter


  • Extended daylight hours due to the seasonal change, not evening electric lighting, had the biggest impact on delayed sleeping patterns
  • The melatonin delay caused an average of 16 minute delay in reported sleep onset and a 15 minute average reduction in reported sleep duration during the spring
  • The lrc recommends that teenagers increase morning daylight exposure throughout the year and decrease evening daylight exposure during the spring months

‘Clean the Air. Let the Future Breathe Again’ – Smoke to Illustrate Dangers of Air Pollution

Projection on Smoke

The project helps illustrate how crucial the issue of air pollution is for future generations


xiao zhu uses factory smoke to illustrate dangers of air pollution

Xiao Zhu is a chinese company dedicated to providing clean air to its citizens. The country sees more than 500,000 die every year from causes related in some way to extreme levels of airborne contaminants. Like most socially conscious businesses, entering better products into the market is often only a small part of a larger equation; true change lies within education and protest. To make an impact, xiao zhu needed to show the people of china how crucial the issue is, and they did so in the most direct means possible.

Click HERE to read more about the project

Article Written by : Nick Brink

GIF & Image courtesy of : Xiao Zhu

Source : Designboom

Mariana Figueiro to Speak at TEDMED 2014

Mariana Figueiro

Mariana Figueiro

Mariana Figueiro, Lighting Research Center (LRC) Light and Health Program Director and Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will speak at TEDMED, September 12, 2014 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. During the talk, she will reveal surprising facts about the effect of light—its presence, its absence, and its patterns—on human health and wellbeing.

Humans need to be exposed to a sufficient amount of light of the right spectrum, for a sufficient amount of time, and at the right time, for the circadian system to remain synchronized with the 24-hour day. Light can be used to improve sleep, alertness, and performance, along with overall health and well-being among the general population, and in populations with rigorous work schedules, such as U.S. Navy submariners and NICU nurses.

One of Figueiro’s flagship projects is the 24-hour lighting scheme for elders, including those with Alzheimer’s disease. The lighting scheme delivers high circadian stimulation during the daytime and low circadian stimulation in the evening, along with nightlights designed to reduce falls. The scheme has been installed in several elder care facilities in New York State with excellent results.

Click HERE to read the full article.

Source: Edison Report

Blue Lights Keep Alive Infant With Rare Condition

It’s not uncommon for newborns to go home with slightly yellowed skin – a condition called jaundice – that usually disappears in a few days as their livers mature.

For Nina Lowry, though, the yellow cast to her skin and the whites of her eyes lingered months.

Five times, her parents took the blue-eyed baby from their apartment at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, where her father is an Army musician, to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk so she could lie under special lights that broke down a toxin called bilirubin in her bloodstream.

Tests finally led to a diagnosis of Crigler-Najjar syndrome, a genetic disorder so rare only one in a million newborns worldwide have it. Nina’s was the first case the doctor who treated her had ever seen.

An enzyme responsible for breaking down bilirubin doesn’t work properly, and the buildup of the toxin can eventually lead to brain damage and death.

Click here to read the full article

Written by: Elizabeth Simpson

Source: The Virginian-Pilot

Aging in Place: Lighting a Room for a Senior Client

“Often, the first thing people notice is their loss of ability to see distance,” notes Terry McGowan, the American Lighting Association’s (ALA) director/engineering & technology and the owner of Lighting Ideas in Cleveland. “That happens around age 45 and is called presbyopia. By 60, most people have a ‘fixed focus’ optical system and need glasses. After age 60, eye and visual system changes accelerate so that less light reaches the eye. Therefore people need more light to see details.” Basically, the follow changes are occurring: reduced visual acuity (ability to see small details); reduced contrast sensitivity (harder to see differences between light and dark objects and surfaces); reduced color discrimination; longer time required to adapt to large and sudden differences in brightness; and increased sensitivity to glare.

Click here to read the full article

Written by: Linda Longo

Source: Enlightenment Magazine