When we think pollution, toxic chemicals, poisoned lakes and oil spills are often top of mind. But in recent years, light pollution, also known as "photo pollution" and "luminous pollution," has become an issue we're increasingly aware of. Light pollution refers to annoying, harmful and just plain wasteful lighting. Unnecessary lighting also contributes to global warming by making wasteful demands on energy.
Common examples include:
• the "sky glow" surrounding urban skies, (no) thanks to the overillumination of commercial spaces, plus poorly designed street and building lights that cast as much light into the sky above as toward the ground below;
• the glare from poorly placed or overly strong streetlights, which can dangerously affect driver vision;
• extraneous and harmful lighting that can endanger wildlife: for example, the office-building lights that confuse birds and cause millions of deaths each year during migration time;
• "light trespass," say, from your neighbour's security light shining into your kitchen window;
• overilluminated interior spaces.
Light pollution also has direct effects on your health, with numerous studies linking it to weakened vision, headaches, hypertension, and even increased chances of developing cancer, according to recent studies. There's no doubt that we need to turn the lights down a few notches. Here's how to get started.
1. Reduce the light escaping from your home
Put your exterior lights on motion detectors so they only come on when needed. Minimize wattage, and direct illumination toward the ground, not upward, where it's of little use but contributes to sky glow (or goes into your neighbour's home). If you live in a multistorey building, use blackout blinds at night so birds aren't fatally attracted to your windows, and talk with your building manager or tenant's association about turning your high-rise into a Bird-Friendly Building.
2. Cool it with the indoor lighting
Put as many household lights as possible on dimmer switches so you can save energy while you enjoy mood lighting. Help your body and mind wind down toward bedtime by turning off lights. Stick with table and floor lamps, not harsh overheads.
Page 1 of 2 – Find out more tips on how you can do your part in reducing light pollution on Page 2