Light pollution can be harmful to both humans and animals alike. Excessive use of artificial lights can cause many adverse side effects. One such component is urban sky glow. This phenomenon refers to the brighter night sky over a city or town. Light trespass can also occur. This happens when the artificial light “trespasses” where it does not belong. Light glare and clutters can also occur with light pollution.
Light pollution has many adverse effects on human health. Night-shift workers who are exposed to fluorescent lights at night are more likely to develop breast cancer. In addition to higher breast cancer rates among night works, exposure to fluorescent lights can also contribute to agoraphobia, enhance tumor formation, and increased stress in humans. Another side effect associated with exposure to light at nighttime is an interruption in a person’s circadian rhythm. This will impair sleep and can contribute to health issues such as insomnia, depression, and cardiovascular disease.
There are also ecological side effects associated with light pollution. Light trespass, a component of light pollution, can cause harm to sockeye salmon. When exposed to any light above 0.1 lux, these fish will stop swimming downstream and will stick to waters near the shore. This puts them within close reach of predators. Bats are also affected by light pollution. The urban sky glow brightens the night sky. Since bats try to avoid light, this lessens their time they have to hunt for food at night. Bright lights, such as those associated with light glares and clutters, can cause baby sea turtles to lose their way to the ocean. As these baby sea turtles head towards the light, thinking it’s the moon shining off of the sea, they can then die of exposure to the elements and to predators.
Considering the various side effects fluorescent lights pose, the future of LED technology has proved promising in lighting the globe, without pollution.