Even Light Can Cause Pollution!

Posted on June 2, 2012 in Environment

By Udit Garg:

We all have heard, felt and learned about Water Pollution, Air Pollution, and Soil Pollution etc. but has one ever heard of Light Pollution? Yes, Light Pollution does exist and is very much disastrous, directly linked with Humans. But the question arises, what is light pollution? Well, Light Pollution is the artificial light i.e. man-made outdoor light, which un-necessarily light up areas which are beyond the target areas of the artificial light. It came into notice of Astronomers in USA where a team in Washington was able to capture only 250 celestial bodies while another team at the same in time in outskirts of Georgia, in a village captured 1500 celestial bodies with similar telescope. Wonderful man-made phenomenon isn’t it?

The light pollution is made up of components like glare (high-intense light which hinders in visibility), light trespass (Lighting up of area which is not required or extended from targeted area), poor aesthetics (harsh-pointy nightlife in metropolitans suppressing the original beauty of nature), and economic cost (wastage of fossils and money un-necessarily). But now, another question arises, what is the reason behind light pollution? The answer lies within the mentality of humans! The mentality being brighter is safer which of course is related to vehicles and those people who drive with high head-lights in cities. Secondly, urban sprawl i.e. unlimited expansion of residential and commercial land till the logical limits of Humans. Thirdly, bigger and advanced houses use unlimited and stupidest sources of lighting, wasting a lot of energy and fossil fuels and fourth of all lack of knowledge in people about what they are doing is wrong. All these add into Light Pollution.

Light pollution affects not only Humans but Animals and Environment too. Melatonin is a hormone inside Humans which gets produced when no light hits retina but with Light Pollution, while sleeping eyes are even then full of lights, thus, depriving human body of melatonin which is very much required because melatonin is responsible for all circadian rhythms which contribute into “hormone based” cancers like breast cancer and making us prone to diseases like diabetes, asthma and heart-diseases.

In Animals also, it has great impacts. University of Massachusetts, Amherst reported that various nocturnal animals like cats, ferrets etc. behave violently and show reduced psychological intelligence when in contact with light pollution for greater time. University of Miami researched on baby turtles, traditionally when they hatch they move towards the sea with the light from sun/moon but in research it was found that they actually move towards a light source which is more luminous and because of the glare from laminated cities, go towards roads near beach where they are killed because of a fastening car or caught by predators.

Thus, Light pollution is a very important topic which needs to be taken into consideration ASAP and any further delay can be disastrous. NGO’s like any other issue can work on this problem effectively by educating people about light pollution, its causes, and its affects. Asking the legislature to research and create laws that reduce light pollution, working directly on the sources of it and finally working on new city design like finding effective alternatives that can help in first reducing and then removing the problem from its roots.