Light Pollution

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LED lights are known for being energy-efficient and less costly to run, but scientists cautioned that their widespread use can come with adverse consequences, the Guardian reported.

In a new study, a research team studied images captured from the International Space Station and noticed that a number of European countries are rapidly switching from older, orange-colored sodium lights to bright and bluish LEDs.

While this might save nations money, researchers worry that this rapid transition could cause “substantial biological impacts” across the continent.

One of the chief issues is the effect on human sleep cycles: Past studies have suggested that the blue light from LEDs – such as those in phones and computers – can impact a person’s sleep.

The emitted light can suppress melatonin in humans, the hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles. This can alter sleeping habits and result in a myriad of chronic health conditions over time.

Meanwhile, blue light can also modify the behavior of other creatures, such as bats and moths, by causing them to move toward or away from light sources.

Darren Evans of Newcastle University, who was not involved in the study, said the paper supported his previous findings that local street illumination had significantly reduced the quantity of night-time insect populations in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, David Smith of the UK-based conservation charity Buglife cautioned that the British government should introduce targets to reduce light-pollution levels.

“We should consider light from a wider biological perspective than that of just humans (and) we must focus on better quality lighting that is harmonious with our natural world,” he added.

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