Adverse Health Effects of Light Pollution and Its Solutions
Almost a century and a half ago, a New York street bathed under the stark light of an incandescent bulb - invented by Thomas Edison. This marked the beginning of modern electric lighting, Residential lighting, commercial lighting, street lighting, billboards - all of this got a new facelift with the invention of that one bulb. Eventually, electric lighting grew to a level that it took the shape of a pollutant.
What is Light Pollution?
Light Pollution - in simple terms - can be defined as inappropriate outdoor lighting.
Artificial lighting has benefitted the society in so many ways than can be counted. It has increased the length of a productive day manifold, taking the productivity of a day multiple notches up.
But when this same artificial outdoor lighting becomes unnecessary and annoying (in ways that are touched upon in this article), it is known as light pollution.
Believing the researchers and the environmentalists, light pollution has today become one of the fast growing forms of environment pollutions, the type that can have adverse effects on the health of not just humans but also flora and fauna.
So, what exactly is causing light pollution and how can we overcome this?
Types of Light Pollution
Light pollution is not just limited to overuse of artificial light in a particular space. It is categorized in different categories like over illumination, light clutter, sky glow, light trespass, and glare. Over illumination is defined as having the artificial lights ON for more than the requirement, for instance keeping the turned ON in an empty building or not having daylight saving for street lights etc. Light clutter is a situation where light’ clusters are haphazardly placed, thus causing a contrast illumination.
Sky glow is nothing but light being scattered by water droplets or particles in the air. This creates a bright halo in the night sky, which is what we refer to as sky glow. Light trespass - as the name suggests - is when street light or flood light enters an adjacent property that would otherwise be dark - this is considered illegal in many parts of the world. Light that shines horizontally causes glare in the sky - another type of light pollution.
Causes of Light Pollution
Light Pollution is completely a man-made calamity. There are many things that account for light pollution, some of which are:
-Poor Light Placement Planning
-Irresponsible Usage of Lights
-Excessive Dependence on Lights
-Lights from Motor Vehicles
If engineers placing the light fixtures do not take into consideration the impact of placement on the immediate environment, it can create light clutter.
Over time, electricity has become too cheap for people to realise its importance. Even when natural lighting source can well illuminate a place, they depend on artificial lighting. Keeping the festive lights ON throughout the night or not choosing energy-saving lights is a major cause of light pollution.
Effects of Light Pollution
A lot of us might have never even heard of artificial light becoming a source of environment pollution but it has adverse effects on all living creatures.
Effect on Human Beings
Human bodies work on circadian rhythm - which functions on light during the day time and dark when the day comes to an end and it is dark. Now that it is perpetually never dark, circadian rhythm has gone for a toss. A disruption in the circadian rhythm can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, and insomnia etc.
Effect on Animals
The entire animal species is in danger today, such is the effect of light pollution on them. It has led to altered behaviours and upset breeding cycles in birds and animals alike. Some seem to be moving to areas with low light pollution, thus creating an environmental imbalance.
Keeping Light Pollution at Bay
Usage of light shields, warm lighting, certified lighting, and motion sensors apart from creating awareness about light pollution and its impact can help keep it under check.
Researchers believe that LED lights can prove a lot beneficial in bring light pollution down. They are available in various color temperatures, are decked with optional motion sensors, and are long lasting, thus helping stop fossil fuel reservoirs from depletion.
However, some people live with the belief that LED lights are not good for health. The piece of information below is helpful for anyone who needs to bust this myth for themselves and people they know.100
The Effects of LED Lighting on Health and Wellbeing
This controllable light technology has proven itself to be of use when it comes to users’ health in various ways.
They Help Align Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythm helps keep the human body functioning to its best. If it falls out of sync, alertness levels fall down. Since LED lights are more controlled than their incandescent and fluorescent counterparts, they help maintain the circadian rhythm. Cooler wavelengths help during the day time and as the evening approaches, warm wavelength offered by an LED helps relax.
They Help Decrease Headaches
Flickering tube lights and poor task lighting are two major causes of aggravated migraines and headaches. Since LEDs never flicker and are available in various types to suit specific needs, they help mitigate the headaches to an extent. One can pair them with lighting controls to suit their specific needs and improve their comfort levels.
They Increase Learning Performance
These lights do not flicker and hence do not cause any distraction. Secondly, they produce less heat, which further helps create increased attention spans. Being used in classroom and work settings, they have proven themselves to be of great benefit in increasing overall productivity and alertness levels.
They Decrease Stress and Anxiety
If the artificial lighting fails to mimic natural lighting, it can cause adverse behavioural and mood changes. This can, in turn, lead to increased stress and anxiety levels. However, LED lights are known to mimic natural lighting even when indoors, it helps bring stress and anxiety levels down. Light therapy is also used to cure SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) - a potentially serious condition that requires treatment.
While the ultimate solution to light pollution is education about it so an environment can be created where we are less dependent on artificial lighting, we can start with small steps, like installing LED lights, for one.