Light pollution

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Light pollution is an offshoot of industrialization. Lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, streetlights, and illuminated sporting venues are some of the sources of light pollution. This form of pollution is most severe in highly industrialized, densely populated areas of North America, Europe, and Japan, but even relatively small amounts of light are enough to cause discomfort and problems.

Light pollution is probably best described as artificial light that is allowed to illuminate, or pollute, areas not intended to be lit.

Contents

Why should I be aware of this?

Until recently light pollution was of little consequence to us. But now it has increased to such an extent that it interferes with our view of star-filled night sky. It also disturbs the feeding, mating, and migratory habits of many forms of nocturnal wildlife.

Light pollution and health

Excessive obtrusive light created by humans causes light pollution which disrupts ecosystems, obscures stars to city dwellers, interferes with astronomical observatories and produces adverse health effects.

All about light pollution

There are two types of light pollution:

  • annoying light that intrudes on an otherwise natural or low light setting
  • excessive light, generally indoors, that leads to worker discomfort and adverse health effects.

Light Pollution Sources

Intrusive Light

This is when over-bright or poorly directed lights enter a neighborhood and affect the neighbors’ right to enjoy their own property. An ill-directed security light directed into a bedroom window and a bright advertising signage. These are some of the examples of intrusive light.

Skyglow

Skyglow is the orange glow seen over towns and roads from upward light. This poses a serious problem for astronomers as the artificial brightness of the sky overpowers distant stars, especially those low in the night sky.

Poor Lighting

Inconsiderate or incorrectly set lighting can produce a glare which obstructs a person’s vision with its over-brightness. Such lighting can also impact on the ecology and wildlife of an area, and affect the behavioral patterns of mammals, birds, insects and fish.

What can I do about it?

Before installing lights the following questions should be asked

  • Is this lighting at all necessary?
  • If the lighting is for security, can some other possible method, such as

segregating or screening of an area, be adopted?

  • Are the lights required on all night? For example, the exterior of buildings or empty car parks.
  • If lighting is the best option then only the right amount of light for the task should be installed. Lighting will then only become a problem if it is poorly designed or incorrectly installed.
  • Adjust the lights correctly so that they only illuminate the intended surface and do overflow onto neighboring property.
  • Security lights should be correctly adjusted so that they only pick up the movement of persons in the area intended and not beyond
  • Do not install equipment which spreads light above horizontal levels.

References

  • Light pollution