Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Light Pollution

"Light pollution has had disastrous effects on migrating birds, resulting in millions dying each year, and that figure increases with the combination of outdoor light and fog. Birds use the light at the horizon to migrate at night. When the birds see a brightly lit building, they become confused and fly around and around — in essence becoming trapped in the light — eventually dropping dead from exhaustion.

The term photopollution — artificial light that has adverse effects on wildlife — was coined in a watershed paper by Dutch ecologist F.J. Verheijen in 1985. In the paper, Verheijen says that many nocturnally active animals need a natural light field between sunset and sunrise as a requirement for survival.

'When we think about the night and the extent of light pollution in the last 20 years, it's growing far faster than the human population and has changed the environment significantly,' explained Longcore.

But light pollution's harmful effects aren't restricted to animals.

'Women who work at night, change shifts often or don't get proper sleep at night suppress their melatonin production and have higher rates of breast cancer,' explained Dr. Mario Motta, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society and associate at the North Shore Cardiovascular Associates. 'It's a fact. The exact cause is speculative, but we think it's because of the changes in the melatonin production due to disruption of their circadian rhythm.'

Disrupting the circadian rhythm can cause insomnia, depression and increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease."

Article in its entirety:
http://miller-mccune.com/science_environment/blinded-by-the-light-1501

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