Global Increases in Light Pollution

By Samuel Kinuthia on January 26 2018 in Environment

City lights as viewed from space; artificially lit outdoor areas has grown by 2 percent yearly from 2012 to 2016.
City lights as viewed from space; artificially lit outdoor areas has grown by 2 percent yearly from 2012 to 2016.

Light pollution has greatly affected industrialized and highly populated countries. The most affected nations include Japan, North Africa, Europe, and North America among others. The spread of artificial light into hinder lands and its overall increased use has also caused light pollution. Recent studies indicate that nighttime is getting brighter across the world because of increasing light pollution.

What Is Light Pollution?

Light pollution, also known as photo pollution, results from excessive artificial lighting at night. Unlike the moon and the stars, which emit moderate natural light at night, artificial lighting tends to be excessive especially in urban areas. Light pollution is a side effect of industrialization. The sources of light pollution include outdoor area lighting, advertising, streetlights, and building's exterior and interior lighting among others.

Increase in Light Pollution

According to a German-led term report, light pollution is a threat to darkness everywhere. This report has been justified by satellite observations. Satellite observations show that the artificially lit outdoor area has grown by 2 percent yearly from 2012 to 2016. The outdoor energy-efficient and cost-saving light emitting diodes called LEDs also contribute to light pollution. Researchers report stable night light in Spain, Netherlands and United States among others. According to Christopher Kyba of the Germany Research Center for Geosciences, light pollution is on the rise in countries with elusive blue light.

Types of Light Pollution

Some specific categories of light pollution include light cutter, sky glow, light trespass, and glare among others.

Glare light pollution falls into three categories: blinding glare, discomfort glare, and disability glare. Glare light scattering in the eye leads to unsafe driving conditions and loss of contrast. Light clutter is the excessive groupings of lights. Groupings of lights may cause accidents, generate confusion, and distract drivers from obstacles. On the other hand, light trespass results when unwanted light shines for instance over a neighbor’s window. It causes problems like sleep deprivation.

Effects on Human and Animals

Like any other form of pollution, light pollution has adverse health effects, disrupts ecosystems, and interferes with astronomical observations. Medical research reveals that several health effects may result from light pollution. The effects include fatigue, decreased sexual function, and cancer among others ailments. Light at night also affects alertness and mood for those who wish to be awake at night. Many studies show that night shift work causes prostate cancer and breast cancer. Studies carried out in South Korea, reported many cases of breast cancer in workers exposed to artificial light.

Light pollution can cause abnormal extended growing periods in plants. Light pollution also interferes with migration and reproduction of insects, fish, birds, and bats. Furthermore, seeing Milky Way stars will not be possible if the trend continues. Photos taken by astronauts in the international space station also provides evidence of the growing problem.

Reduction of Light Pollution

Several measures can help to reduce light pollution. These include turning off lights manually when not needed and using a timer. Utilizing light sources of minimum intensity also helps to accomplish the light purpose. Christopher Kyba and his colleagues urge people to avoid glaring lamps and white LEDs and instead use Amber lights. They also advocate for dim, closely spaced lights on city streets and in parking lots.

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