As Montreal prepares to decide whether or not to change more than 100,000 streetlights to LED bulbs -- a move that would slash energy costs and bask city streets in a whitish hue -- some critics have raised concerns about the lights disrupting sleep.

Several North American cities, including Ottawa and Los Angeles, have already made the switch, and Montreal has been weighing the option for months.

But research from the American Medical Association released in June suggested that blue light, which is emitted from LEDs but appears white to the naked eye, could suppress a persons’ melatonin secretion and tinker with their biological clock if it enters their bedroom while they sleep.

The report urged communities to minimize the use of blue-rich lighting and to dim LED streetlights during non-peak usage periods.

“People have sleep disorders, which can lead to all sorts of other problems, when they’re exposed to a lot of blue light,” said Dr. Andrew Gurman of the American Medical Association.

To address those concerns, the city of Montreal asked the Quebec public health department to look into the matter and consider the colour spectrum used by the lights.

The department considered the research but ended up green-lighting the project, saying that the switchover likely wouldn’t lead to a significant increase of exposure to blue light.

The costs of switching over to LED streetlights are estimated at $110 million, but Montreal anticipates long-term savings of nearly $300 million over 20 years.

With a report from CTV’s Quebec Bureau Chief Genevieve Beauchemin