We all have a fair idea about the common types of environmental issues, like air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution and noise pollution. However, light pollution may be a new term to many of us. But, the fact is, artificial light does affect the natural light levels in the same way as other man-made sources. Similar to other pollution types, it adversely affects mankind, other living forms and the environment as a whole.
Light Pollution Facts for Kids
The alternative names for light pollution are luminous pollution and photopollution. This problem stems from poorly designed light fixtures, which brighten all areas, instead of focusing on the desired ground area. In simple words, light pollution is resulted when artificial light sources illuminate certain areas, which do not require lighting.
What is Light Pollution?
It is an umbrella term for representing all forms of misused artificial light. In the broad sense, light pollution is defined as the unwanted change of natural light levels in the environment due to effects of man-made light sources. Based on the area affected, it is grouped under indoor and outdoor light pollution. Human activities are directly or indirectly responsible for this form of pollution.
Light Pollution Types
Even though this environmental issue is a new aspect, nearly all people are acquainted with light pollution types. You may notice it in the form of light trespass (light entering into someone's property), skyglow (glow effect at night in crowded cities), light clutter (groups of artificial lightings), over-illumination (use of light more than required) and glare (bright light that is uncomfortable for our eyes).
Light Pollution Sources
The obvious cause of light pollution is use of external lighting products inappropriately. It can be apartment light, office lighting, car headlights, decorative lights, billboards, security lights, station lights, streetlights and many more. With reference to these many contributing sources, it won't be wrong to say that photopollution is an outcome of industrial civilization.
Light Pollution Effects
Light pollution is detrimental to both plants and animals. Upon studies, it is found that deciduous plants that have been exposed to inappropriate outdoor lights fail to shed their foliage as they used to. In animals, obvious effects are observed in the behavior of nocturnal animals. Needless to mention, bright light at night makes it difficult for these animals to hunt, roam and perform their regular activities.
Light Pollution Effects on Health
Light pollution is directly or indirectly responsible for causing several diseases. Its effects are related to disturbance in the circadian rhythm. It contributes to impairment of the immune responses, reduced secretion of melatonin hormone and increased risks of developing cancerous cells. As per the American Medical Association, light pollution is nothing less than a threat to human health.
Cost of Light Pollution
You have already seen the negative effects of light pollution on plants, animals and human health. Apart from this, the actual cost of misused light is estimated to be millions of dollars every year. It also accounts to emission of greenhouse gases and global warming. After all, fossil fuels are used for producing maximum electricity in both developed and developing countries.
Solutions for Light Pollution
While outdoor lighting and using artificial light fixtures are part of our modern lifestyle, simple steps from our side will surely help in reducing light pollution. Say for example, while installing outdoor lighting, make sure that they are pointed downwards. Also, use only the required light fixtures for home and offices. Likewise, let's contribute our part in minimizing the waste.
There are many more interesting facts that you can learn about this environmental issue. The concluding point is, it affects the natural ecosystem in a number of ways. Believe it or not, many urban dwellers cannot view clear sky, stars and milky way at night. Also, it disturbs the work of astronomers greatly. A practical choice is to install the right lighting fixture at the right place.