LED Lights Found to Cause Grave Light Pollution Worldwide

Using low-cost energy-saving LEDs might be doing more harm than good

A new study using satellite data finds that artificially lit surfaces around the world are spreading and growing brighter, producing more light pollution at night.

Rather, it's that people keep installing more and more lights, he told reporters on a conference call to discuss the research.

"This is concerning, of course, because we are convinced that artificial light is an environmental pollutant with ecological and evolutionary implications for many organisms - from bacteria to mammals, including us humans - and may reshape entire social ecological systems", Franz Holker of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, one of the study's authors, said in a briefing.

Outdoor illumination grew at around 3 to 6 percent per year in the second half of the 20 century. While this has benefited human productivity and safety, it has come with a dark side: The night is no longer dark enough.

The researchers filtered out data that could affect the study - such as areas ravaged by wildfires appearing darker because flames had been extinguished, or cloud cover - so they could correctly analyse artificial illumination only.

The major cause for diminishing nights is artificial lighting during night-time - the newest concern of scientists today. It's also a problem for nocturnal animals, plants, and microorganisms. It also could be harming vital interactions between species, such as the pollination of plants and spreading of seeds by key nocturnal creatures.

The ecosystem is also at risk, with the changes impacting the migration and reproduction patterns of birds, fish, amphibians, insects and bats.

The International Dark-Sky Association, based in Tucson, Arizona, has been highlighting the hazards of artificial night light for decades. There's also a lot more awareness of light pollution. But the researchers found that "as light gets cheaper, we use more of it, almost proportionately to the rate at which it's getting cheaper", Kyba says.

The findings are in a new study in the journal Science Advances that used five years of data from a satellite launched in 2011. This means the amount of outdoor lighting has been increasing over the last few years.

Asia, Africa and South America, for the most part, saw a surge in artificial night lighting. Countries that already were brightly lit, such as the United States and Spain, appeared stable. Nighttime light declined in war-hit Syrian and Yemen.

Using a series of satellite-based sensors, an global team of scientists has determined that the use of artificial lightings such as LEDs, OLEDs, and PLEDs has increased light pollution significantly.

A team of worldwide researchers has found that, despite an increase in energy-efficient LED bulbs, surface light pollution has increased around the world. Those sodium lights put out a small amount of infrared radiation, which would have made them look brighter to VIIRS.

Solutions include using lower intensity lights, turning lights off when people leave an area, and choosing LED lights that are amber instead of blue or violet, since these tend to be the most harmful to animals and humans, experts say.

"We'll light something that we didn't light before, like a bicycle path through a park or a section of highway leading outside of town that in the past wasn't lit", said Christopher Kyba, the study's lead author. But Kyba says lots of places in this country are switching to LEDs for light, and this satellite can not detect all the kinds of light that LEDs put out.

Kyba said nighttime lighting also obscures the stars that people have witnessed for millennia. People may buy a vehicle that requires less fuel, then decide to drive it more often or move further from work, lengthening their commute.

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