Ever imagined how a streetlight can behave? Well, the answer might be- ‘friendly’ and if not installed properly, a foe sometimes!

Want to be a light doctor? Join us, as we take you through the effects of bad lighting and how it can harm you!

What is Light Pollution?

Light pollution is excessive, misdirected, or obtrusive artificial (usually outdoor) light. Too much light pollution has consequences: it washes out starlight in the night sky, interferes with astronomical research, disrupts ecosystems, has adverse health effects and wastes energy.

Effects of light pollution !

Not everyone is equally affected by bright lights.

Some people found the LED lights too bright, others like a daylight atmosphere at night, while some dont notice. But the brightness isn’t just an aesthetic concern; poorly designed streetlights can mess with ability to sleep because they may depress melatonin, the natural hormone produced in our bodies that encourages sleep and also cause breast and prostate cancer. That’s one of the reasons the American Medical Association has released reports critical of LED, mentioning the glare factor and the health effect of too-bright lights on circadian rhythms.

Next, we aren’t the only species affected by these lights. Its easy to think, buying shades for your windows is a wise option, but no other creature has the luxury. More than 60 percent of invertebrates and 30 percent of vertebrate species are nocturnal, with many more active at dawn and dusk. Many of these species are the insects that pollinate the flowers and plants we enjoy and that provide the protein foundation for entire ecosystems. Artificial light at night destroys their habitat, and the new “blue” LEDs are the most destructive.

The tricky aspect and the most interesting one is that these brighter lights will not increase our safety. In fact, while some light at night can indeed help increase our safety by improving our vision, too much light or light that is too bright actually can reduce safety. Recent research has shown that we see best at night by contrast, having lighted objects stand out against a dark background. In fact, in trying to light up the night, we create glare and cast shadows that actually make it more difficult to see, and thus decrease safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike.

With respect to energy wastage, lighting is responsible for at least one-fourth of all electricity consumption worldwide. Over illumination can constitute energy wastage, especially upward directed lighting at night. Energy wastage is also a waste in cost and carbon footprint.

Some Key Factors

Glare is a visual sensation caused by excessive and uncontrolled brightness. It can be disabling or simply uncomfortable. It is subjective, and sensitivity to glare can vary widely. Older people are usually more sensitive to glare due to the aging characteristics of the eye. Disability glare is the reduction in visibility caused by intense light sources in the field of view, while discomfort glare is the sensation of annoyance or even pain induced by overly bright sources (Rea 2000). Reducing glare is an effective way to improve the lighting.With the solutions that afterglow provides we can have a glare free light.

Over illumination is the use of light well beyond that required for a specific activity. Many places, both indoors and out, have lights on when no people are present. In many cases, this goes beyond the need for security lighting. Think of office buildings that have lights on all night even though the buildings are virtually empty.Afterglow provides with a module that can be properly scheduled.

Sky glow is the bright ‘glow’ seen over many cities and towns in the evening. It is the result of the many electric lighting fixtures that shed light above urban areas. It is caused by light traveling through the atmosphere being refracted or scattered by water droplets or particles (aerosols) such as dust, pollen, bacteria, spores, salt from sea spray, mineral particles lifted from deserts and waste products from industry. It is therefore worse in heavily polluted areas, and will always exist to some extent when the air quality is poor.

Light clutter

Excessive groupings of light that are bright and confusing, commonly found in over-lit cities and inhabited areas. The proliferation of clutter contributes to urban sky glow, trespass, and glare.

Light trespass

Noise complaints aren’t uncommon, but how about light complaints? This might happen with light trespass, when unwanted light enters private property, be it from a neighbor, passing headlights, or street lamps.

How can you Reduce it?

The good news is that light pollution can be reduced fairly easily by shielding lights properly, by only using light when and where it is needed, by only using the amount that is needed, by using energy efficient bulbs, and by using bulbs with appropriate spectral power distributions for the task at hand.

1. Start with the light switch. The cheapest, most obvious and most effective way to reduce light pollution is to start turning things off. While there’s a time and place for outdoor lighting — illuminating after dark activities, for instance — many of us burn porch and spot lighting because it gives us a sense of security. In fact, there’s little data to support the idea that outdoor lighting reduces crime. Turn on lights when you need them, or use portable lighting. Go dark when you don’t.

2. Check with your power company to see if you’re paying for outdoor lighting. It’s possible you’re being billed for that nasty sodium vapor lamp down at the street. Many utilities charge $5 to $10 a month for this service. A quick check of your bill or a call to Customer Service will tell the story. If this turns out to be the case, terminate the charge and ask that the light be removed. Most power companies are happy to oblige.

3. Consider replacing outdoor lights with intelligently designed, low-glare fixtures. Did you know there is a certification body for sky-friendly outdoor lighting? The International Dark Sky Association evaluates fixtures for low glare and efficiency. Look for the IDA seal of approval on locally sourced fixtures, or seek out a company such as Starry Nights , which specializes in low-pollution lighting. They also maintain a blog on light pollution and related issues.Afterglow interests with, also is growing as a contributor towards the IDA.

4. Place motion sensors on essential outdoor lamps. Lighting on demand trumps a manual switch or timer. Motion sensitive switches will light up porches and walkways when you need to move around after dark. They’ll pay for themselves in fairly short order.

5. Replace conventional high-energy bulbs with efficient outdoor CFLs and LED floodlights. While efficiency lighting won’t directly keep all those stray lumens from bouncing around, it will take some of the sting out of your monthly bill and reduce power company carbon emissions. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that CFLs and LEDs are a green light to be sloppy about switching things off. While you’re at it, see whether low-wattage, solar powered walkway lamps might replace area lighting. They’re inexpensive and practically free to operate.

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