Lighting Pollution Facts Are Worrisome To Biodiversity

Lighting pollution facts are warning us now in 2024. The word pollution is involved in every aspect of our life. Modern civil life is poisoned by various types of pollution like noise pollution, air pollution, water pollution, etc. Adding to that a new dimension is light pollution.

Ever heard of light pollution? Maybe not. Yet this is what modern mechanics is all about. We have seen the starry sky as children but we no longer see it when we grow up.

To the new generation, this is like a fairy tale story. We are already inundated with increasing light pollution. This pollution is fatal not only to human life but also to animals.

What Is Light Pollution?

Any artificial lighting over natural light in a place is light pollution or light pollution. According to the International Dark-Sky Association, light pollution is the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light.

Very little light may not harm the environment, but bright street lampposts, lighting of high-rise buildings or special places, etc. have a serious impact on the environment.

And this is what we call light pollution. Its effects take some time to affect the environment but are fatally harmful. Broadly speaking, visible excess light is the main source of light pollution.

Light is present in all aspects of our lives, but the heat emitted from the extra visible light heats the atmosphere, having a profound effect on the Milky Way in space.

That is why the presence of excess light is basically considered light pollution.

New construction projects, urbanization, etc., have a lot of light, which increases the level of light pollution. Although this type of pollution can persist throughout the day, its effects are more pronounced in the darkness of night.

It is estimated that 83 percent of the world’s people live under light-polluted skies, and 23 percent of the world’s land area is affected by skyglow. Light pollution continues to increase in areas affected by artificial lighting.

As one of the major side effects of urbanization, light pollution is blamed for health pollution, ecosystem disruption, and spoiling the aesthetic environment.

What Harm Does Light Pollution Cause?

Light pollution not only harms the environment but also contributes to various complications in biodiversity. The sky above the Opera House in Sydney, Australia is often lured by the bright artificial lights that many birds fly into.

Basically, they are misguided birds. In the flash of bright light, the birds mistake the night for day.

After many disoriented flights, the tired birds landed on the opulent exterior of the Opera House.

But such events do not happen only here but not at all. And it is not only the birds that have to face such losses.

In every part of the world, light pollution is happening every now and then, and every element of nature is the victim.

Why should we know about light pollution? Light pollution is mainly due to artificial lighting. Or it could be due to the extra light needed. Artificial light refers to any light other than natural light (moonlight and sunlight).

Electric lamp used in daily life is our constant companion. But since its discovery, its use has increased day by day at a great rate. Light pollution is increasing from the daily use of different watt bulbs, torch lights, street lamps, billboards, or car headlights.

Moreover, various artificial sources run on kerosene and diesel. Just as the sources of artificial light vary, so do the types of light pollution.

Different Types Of Light Pollution Causes

Excess and unnecessary lighting harms our environment and nature in various ways. Its harmful effects are severe on human settlements. Among the different types of light pollution, three types of pollution are the most well-known and influential.

  1. Excessive brightness: This light pollution occurs mainly due to the misuse of artificial light sources. Unnecessary and excessive artificial lighting can create unnatural brightness in any space. Lamp posts or floodlights used on roads, unnecessary lighting, etc. increase the brightness of a place and spoil the natural light balance of that place. America’s Times Square and Sydney Opera House are excellent examples of such artificial lighting.
  2. Glare: This is the excessive glare of artificial light that can cause discomfort to normal eyes. Examples of this type of light pollution are car headlights on a dark road, broken tube lights, and flashing lights of different colors on a stage.
  3. Light Penetration: Many times we notice the presence of light around us even when it is not needed. Many times the light of the street lamp post enters the houses of those who live along the road despite their reluctance. As a result of this type of light penetration, the way the room environment is destroyed is light penetration.

Harmful Effects Of Light Pollution

Although light pollution does not have immediate harmful effects, it can sometimes be fatal. Light pollution has direct effects on various components of the environment. Let’s take a look at the areas where light pollution has harmful effects according to the Nature Study Society of Bangladesh.

  • Light pollution directly affects people’s sleep. Our body contains a hormone called melatonin, which directly regulates sleep. This hormone is released in the body at night, which regulates body temperature and reduces inflammation. Adequate sleep requires the release of melatonin. But light pollution disrupts melatonin secretion. Melatonin secretion decreases in the presence of artificial light that we use at night, especially blue light LED lights. As a result, we gradually start having sleep problems. Insomnia, headache, depression, anxiety, mental disturbance, etc. problems start appearing gradually.
  • Currently, breast cancer is a significant disease in women. One of the reasons for this is the decrease in the secretion of melatonin. Therefore, the risk of breast cancer increases due to excess of artificial light. A survey by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Services revealed that artificial light at night is responsible for breast cancer. Because of this, women who work the night shift have a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • The presence of light and darkness has a direct effect on various physiological functions of plants, from food production. Due to light pollution, the stomata of plants are open all night even at night. In this, the plant loses its essential sap in the form of steam. As a result, the leaves are getting discolored.
  • As we know, the flowering and fruiting of various seasonal plants depends on the length of day and night, in simple words, the stability of light and darkness. But with light pollution increasing the amount and presence of artificial light, the length of the dark period and the length of daylight vary. As a result, the production of flowers and fruits of plants is disturbed.
  • Many plants are pollinated at night. In the darkness of the night, various insects visit the flowers and pollinate them. The presence of artificial light disturbs the night movement of these insects which also reduces the pollination of plants.
  • The light that shines on street lamp posts emits short-wavelength ultraviolet rays, which can cause genetic changes in small insects. Light changes a compound called thymine in the DNA inside the cell, causing changes in the DNA. It includes their basic characteristics such as skin color; Eye color etc. may change. Even fertility declines.
  • As we know, fireflies light up. But this light does not burn like that. There is a very important purpose behind it, that is reproduction. Jonaki Poka lights up to attract Jonakis of the opposite sex or to satisfy the appeal of the opposite sex. But at present high rate of light pollution has hindered the breeding process of the weevil. At night, the light produced by artificial light cannot reach their partner. As a result, the breeding rate and the number of the species are gradually decreasing.
  • The effects of light pollution on sea turtles are even more severe. Although turtles spend most of their time in the ocean, they come to the beach to lay their eggs during breeding season. When the eggs hatch at night, the baby turtles determine the direction of the sea depending on the brightness of the night sky and the darkness of the sea in the light of the moon. The baby turtle is attracted by the artificial light and goes the wrong way. As a result, the sea is never seen, and many baby turtles are dying. Mother turtles come to dark shores to build nests or lay eggs, avoiding lighted areas. Turtles cannot nest and lay eggs on beaches that have artificial lights or cities.
  • The harmful effects of light pollution on birds have been discussed somewhat earlier. But that’s not the end. American ornithologists conducted long-term research and found that about 200 species of migratory birds in North America have changed their routes due to the influence of light. 56 Petrel species worldwide are affected by light. Changes can be observed in their usage and variations.
  • Light pollution also has profound effects on amphibians and reptiles. Some species of frogs and salamanders navigate by light. Artificial light in the dark affects the amount of melatonin released. Apart from this, these animals go out to hunt late at night or early in the morning. Artificial light disrupts their hunting. Moreover, artificial light can damage the retina of the eye, reduce sperm production, and even cause genetic mutations.
  • Many animals living under the sea are affected by artificial light. Most fish avoid white light. A survey of the Menai Strait shows that googly barnacles are attracted to artificial lights from ships or harbors. Which causes about 303 million US dollars worth of damage.
  • The microscopic zooplankton live in the deeper water layers during the day, rising to the surface at night to feed on the algae. The presence of artificial light inhibits the emergence of the upper layers, while the number of LGs multiplies, resulting in an imbalance in the aquatic environment. Marine corals lay their eggs depending on the new moon and full moon. If the moonlight is affected by artificial light, they may not lay eggs at the right time, thus disrupting breeding.

How Excess Light Harms The Human Mind And Body

Unwanted, excessive, uncontrolled, or hazardous artificial light is a major cause of light pollution in large cities. As a result, people suffer from insomnia.

It causes physical and mental problems. There may be serious diseases like heart problems, chronic headaches, diabetes, high blood pressure, or stroke. Due to exposure to light pollution in various ways, its decay is excessive. Although no one can realize this pollution.

However, a study has shown that the natural rhythm or circadian rhythm of the human body depends on natural light. Also, darkness is very important for creating a favorable environment for female fertility, especially for the growth of the fetus.

The pineal gland of the brain secretes a hormone called melatonin. And it is more effective in the dark. Not only that, bright lights at night hurt female fertility hormones. This reduces their fertility.

Doctors are quite concerned about the harmful effects of modern LED lights. Generally, light with wavelengths between 397-723 nanometers is not harmful.

However, the wavelength of most LED bulbs is less than 397 nanometers, which is harmful to health. Doctors claim that the ultraviolet rays emitted from blue LEDs cause the lens of the eye to become opaque, which is called a cataract. Besides, a thin layer called tergium falls on the cornea.

Then one thing in front seems like two. It is very dangerous for motorists. According to the American Medical Association, blue light from intense but poorly designed LED lamps is very harmful to the hormone melatonin, which is essential for human sleep.

In addition to all the problems, artificial light at night has a terrible effect on the human body. Artificial light at night makes us forget the difference between day and night. That is why we can no longer perceive the night.

Studies have shown that we suffer from several complex physical problems due to the harmful effects of artificial light at night. Notable among them are:

  • Lsleep problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease and
  • Cancers

Huge Biodiversity Is Endangered By Light Pollution

According to Franz Holker, an ecologist at Germany’s Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), the artificial light used at night disrupts the natural light cycle.

Increases light pollution, which has a serious impact on the environment. 30 percent of vertebrates are nocturnal, and more than 60 percent of invertebrates. They cannot adapt themselves to artificial light.

As a result, their behavior is changing. It is also affecting biodiversity including insects, fish, birds, and various amphibians; Especially in their reproduction and movement. In addition, artificial light is quite harmful to microorganisms in plants.

Light And Our Environment

Luminance generally refers to the temperature of the light. The light intensity is related to the light temperature. High-temperature light is too bright and intense.

The light from such a source will raise the temperature wherever it falls. Basically, the unit of heat is Kelvin. In the case of light, Kelvin (K) is used only to indicate the temperature of light and to determine temperature.

The higher the kelvin of the light, the warmer the area near the source from which the light originates. Kelvin exists in light from both natural and artificial sources.

The sun is the only natural source of light. We are illuminated by the light of the sun throughout the day. At this time, our environment is very hot, less hot, temperate, or cold due to the variation in the temperature or light intensity of the sun.

There will be sun during the day and darkness at night, this is the natural law. However, with the development of living standards, the night face of the world has changed. Where there is supposed to be no light at night or the soft light of the moon and stars, immense artificial light bulbs are increasing the temperature of our environment during the day as well as at night.

As a result, the living world is suffering. The life cycle of nocturnal animals and insects in particular is being disrupted. With white eyes, we cannot easily estimate the temperature difference between natural and artificial light.

Kelvin’s scale diagram will hopefully give us a clear idea about that. (Kelvin scale image)

The relationship between light source and light temperature is very close. Different light sources have different temperatures. At night we cannot see the dark starry sky due to the abundance of street lights.

Also, artificial light illumination in various establishments, and mills, has a seriously bad effect on the galaxy.

Below is a list of examples of how the natural light of the sky is being polluted by different sources of light used on the street. (The light source will be the image.)

We don’t see the whole world together. We get an idea of the Earth’s image only from satellite images. So I don’t even see how much light there is in the whole world.

A quick glance at the world will tell you who is responsible for the most light pollution. We can get an idea of the countries with the most light pollution in the satellite image below.

Light Intensity

Light temperature is easily expressed in Kelvin, but light intensity is measured in lux. The word lux sounds like a name-brand product, but the unit of measurement of light is lux.

This unit is used to measure the amount of visible light falling on a surface. It expresses the intensity of illumination and measures the amount of light emitted per unit area.

The amount of light is expressed as lux. Not only in Bangladesh but also in the world, most of the lights have to be lit in factories. We often see large factories with lots of workers and lots of light for their work facilities.

Most of the day the lights are on in these factories. In some cases, 24 hours of light is on. To save electricity, additional artificial light is used in these factories.

The workers of these factories have to work in low light before and after work and in high light during work. Their eyes are damaged to transition to low light and dim light.

Chemical reactions also occur in the brain. Many of us are unaware of the fact that LED lights are the most used in factories because they are energy efficient, bright light, low cost, and durable.

Light-emitting diodes or LED lights are made of a special type of harmful material or toxin called aluminum gallium arsenide, which is not good at all for the human body.

The results obtained by applying this toxic material to multiple animals are truly horrific. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to this particular type of toxic material seriously damages the kidneys and liver, not only that, but it affects women the most. Women face many problems in having children.

Do you fear eye damage? It can be said without a doubt that LED lights cause severe damage to the eyes. However, this damage does not happen overnight.

If such light is exposed directly to the eyes for a long time, the retinal function starts to decrease. And once retinal cells begin to deteriorate, they are often irreversible.

So our eyesight gradually decreases. A recently published study mentions that this type of light emits a blue tint, which damages the eyes.

That’s why experts recommend using filters on LED lights so that blue light doesn’t reach our eyes directly. As a result, the risk of harm is reduced to a large extent.

Incidentally, a person’s eyes are open for about 6000 hours in a year. The risk of eye damage increases, if one is in the glow of LED, lights this entire time.

If a worker works long hours in an industrial factory and likewise works for long years, he develops many physical problems. In these factories, the bigger problem than LED lights is that the light intensity is much higher.

That is, factories use more lux amount of light. Do we really know how much light is needed and where? We have many problems because we don’t know. Let’s know how light intensity is required according to the type of work.

  • It is better to maintain a level of sharpness around 200 LUX while reading or working with pen and paper.
  • To maintain the standard brightness level for offices, where people work on computers and laptops, the light intensity needs to be increased to 400-500 LUX.
  • The level of LUX should be kept at 500 in the shop, and showroom.
  • Lux levels 600-700 should be maintained in the workshop.
  • Complex tasks such as hospital operation theaters require raising the severity level to 1000 LUX.

If we do not use light to the required extent in various areas of life, besides increasing light pollution, we will also see various physical and mental problems.

We are constantly suffering. Sometimes noise pollution, air pollution, soil pollution, and other types of pollution that we can see or perceive directly. Light pollution is one type of pollution that we need a lot of time to understand until a generation is lost.

In most cities, they are no longer visible even in clear skies. Due to light pollution, the atmosphere is glowing even at night.

We can enjoy very little of the infinite beauty of the sky in the glow of such bright light. Many urban children do not or will not be fortunate enough to see the Milky Way.

Light pollution is not something to avoid as much as we take it for granted. As its effects are somewhat slower, we are mostly not concerned with them.

But it is in no way inferior to other pollutants in terms of harmful effects. If we are not aware, we will face many dire dangers soon.

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