The Lights of the Night

Have you seen it happening in your area? They arrived in mine. Municipalities decided to switch outdoor lights from milky-orange, sodium-vapor bulbs to c energy efficient white/blue casting LED street lamps. Increased visibility, but at night is it a good thing?

An LED street lamp glows in MayberryWith my podcast addiction–I subscribe to over 30, I just counted for you–I heard a piece on this very topic produced by Curious City, a program about all things Chicago.  It reported on the source of the changing light colors of Chicago’s skyline. It educated me about artificial light evolution and how increases in light pollution leads to starlight becoming something most people can’t experience anymore–no starlight without natural darkness.

Light pollution occurs when a light source not only shines downward as intended, but to the sides and/or upward. I see it everywhere: businesses with “insecurity lighting,” with beams brighter than daytime sunlight, the homeowners who install outdoor floodlights which shine onto other people’s property, those awful billboards that illuminate so intensely I shut my eyes, but the lids don’t stop the tears.

Why should you care about outdoor light sources? Studies like this one from Harvard have shown LEDs emit greater levels of blue light which is harmful to humans and animals. Blue light disrupts circadian rhythm. Additionally, LEDs tend to add glare. If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, you know these eyes are not a fan of the glare. Ever.

Less lumens at night, I could live with that. Would you? Is there light pollution in your area? Does the street lamp closest to your house use LEDs? Do you care about the health effects of blue light from electronics and light bulbs? Are you tired like me and just want a good night of sleep? Tell me about it.

P.S. podcast pairing if you can’t sleep: Nocturne

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. It seems that what we save on energy efficiency will cost us in other ways. I heard about the blue light and impact on sleep, which probably explains why I can’t ever seem rested.

    1. Sometimes I wish I could do a sleep study and know what exactly goes on.

  2. floridaborne says:

    Light pollution from the large city 2 hours away interferes with our stars. The closest street lights from my house are 3 miles away, and those were installed through the main street of town when the road was widened about 5 years ago.

    The worst for me are fluorescent bulbs and those squiggle bulbs that contain hazardous material if they break. I use a dim halogen bulb at work and have to turn off the fluorescent lighting in the hallway. A well-lighted world is painful for me.

    1. That is some serious light pollution, two hours away and still interfering, sigh. It’s not surprising to me though after listening to that podcast.

  3. Casee says:

    I absolutely hate fluorescent lighting it never fails to give me a headache. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the effects of blue light and the damage it supposedly does.

    Just to be on the safe side I put an app on my computer called Flux.
    It’s supposed to filter out the blue light and it definitely makes the computer more comfortable to use later in the evening. As for the streetlights I prefer the bright LED streetlights because I live in a sketchy neighborhood and it really helps to see when you’re out and about late in the evening I realize that they cause a problem for many people but unfortunately it’s the price we pay for living in a high crime area.

    1. Public safety is important to consider with outdoor lighting. I wish more places would use “enough” rather than “too much”. I will have to check out Flux, it sounds interesting and beneficial. Thanks for mentioning it.
      Stay safe, Casee.

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