Light pollution is often comfortably left silent at the far corner of the discussions table when environmental issues and widely recognized sources of pollution are brought into the spotlight. What is light pollution? Not seeing the stars at night because of the pervasive nighttime illumination? Unfortunately, there’s more to it.
“Light is a two-edged sword,” George Brainard, an expert in light’s influence on physiology at Thomas Jefferson University, told The Huffington Post. “Too much light at the wrong time or at the wrong intensities or wavelengths can have detrimental effects.” (Source)
How Does Light Pollution Affect Us?
Light pollution is claimed to affect human health and well-being in a number of ways:
- Inadequate distribution of light in days and nights can cause fluctuations in the levels of melatonin produced by the human body, leading to a disruption in the circadian rhythm. The latter is the biological mechanism that helps our bodies adapt and function properly within the 24-hour cycle. Circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature, and other important bodily functions. (Source)
- According to the World Health Organization (2007) the disruption of the circadian rhythm experienced by shift workers is a “probable” human carcinogen;
- It is suggested that light pollution can cause breast and prostate cancer. (Source)
- Light pollution is also linked to various chronic health conditions, such as sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.(Source)
Light pollution can seriously affect many animal species.
- High-intensity light at night can be disorienting to birds. It can alter their behavior in terms of migration, foraging, and vocal communication. Same is valid for baby sea turtles and some insects.(Source)
- Electric lighting can be damaging to natural air-cleansing agents that only survive in the dark. (Source)
Light pollution has been on the rise, contrary to the belief that introducing energy-efficient LEDs can change the situation for the better. Below you can find two articles discussing in detail the effects of light pollution on human health, the environment, and community.
Some regions have showed a steady increase in light pollution aligned with economic development, but more developed nations that were thought to be “going dark” by switching to energy-saving LEDs showed no apparent decline in their rates of light pollution.
Ian Cheney had no idea that artificial light at night could be unhealthy when he began filming his new documentary, ” The City Dark.” His interest in what many call “light pollution” stemmed purely from a passion for astronomy, he said, and a question: “What do we lose when we lose the night sky?”
What Steps Can We Take To Reduce Light Pollution?
If using any outdoor lighting:
- Install LED or low-pressure sodium bulbs. If using LEDs, it is important that they be fully shielded, warm (yellow or amber) correlated color temperature (CCT) or 3000K or less.
- Keep light focused on where it’s needed. Always opt for the more directed, lower light options.
- Purchase lights with bulb caps and shields. They prevent the light from emitting straight into the sky.
- Direct your outdoor lights downward.
- Install motion detector lights.
Work on your habits:
- Turn off lights if not in use
- Pull down the blinds in the evening to stop the indoor light from going out into the atmosphere.
- Use “warm” lights in your house lighting. Avoid lights on the blue end of the spectrum – they are more noticeable from a distance.
- Smart lights can assist you in controlling the lights at home.
- In the evening or at night don’t engage in activities that require intense light – leave them for daytime only.
How to Take Action to Prevent Light Pollution. Light pollution receives far less attention than other forms of pollution, but negatively affects the environment in similar ways, shrouding the stars from our eyes at night and disrupting the…
Lighting is one of the most critical-and most visceral-qualities of an indoor space, and the difference between good and bad lighting can make or break comfort, mood and overall happiness in your home. Exposure to natural light affects your immune system as well as your circadian rhythms, sleep cycle and hormones, and studies have linked lack of sunlight to depression (S.A.D), immune problems, diabetes and cancer.
INNOVATION – Sustainable Solutions to Light Pollution
Glowee is a French company that has developed a biological source of light, using the bioluminescent properties of marine micro-organisms such as the Hawaiian bobtail squid. The product is a mix of biomimicry and synthetic biology. Glowee’s main goal is to tackle the damages made to nature, by offering a clean lighting system that would act positively on the whole value chain to ensure the lowest environmental impact. The lights can take any shape, from window stickers to more conventional lamps.
Bacteria may light up the future. Glowee, a start-up company based in Paris, France, is developing bioluminescent lights to illuminate shop fronts and street signs. After a successful demo in December, Glowee has launched its first product – a bacteria-powered light that glows for three days.
Glowee is a biolighting living system without electricity consumption or light pollution emission, thanks to natural properties of bioluminescent living.