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Light Pollution

What is light pollution?


GLARE: Light shining directly into your eyes, causing discomfort and reducing your ability to see.


LIGHT TRESPASS: Light falling where it is not needed or wanted--for example, spilling over onto your property or into your home.


WASTE: Lighting that’s on when it needn’t be; lighting that’s excessively bright; unshielded lighting that spills out and upward instead of being directed at its intended subject.

SKY GLOW: The result of upward-shining light, which is reflected off moisture and dust particles in the atmosphere to illuminate the nighttime sky and wash out all but the brightest stars. See image above.


Why should it be curbed?


Wasted light wastes money. It has been estimated that a third of outdoor lighting spills out and upward, totally wasted; a conservative calculation of the cost comes to around $4.5 billion annually. Added to that figure is the waste from excessively bright lighting and the 100% waste from lighting that’s on when it needn’t be. You are paying the price through higher taxes for public lighting and inflated costs for consumer products and services.


Wasted light causes unnecessary air pollution. Most electricity for lighting is generated by burning coal and oil. Every year this process spills out billions of tons of sulfur dioxide (an ingredient of acid rain), carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), and smog-causing nitrogen oxides.


Wasted light squanders irreplaceable natural resources. The annual waste just from unshielded lighting has been estimated at more than 8 million tons of coal or 30 million barrels of oil.


Light pollution creates unnecessary hazards. Glare from bad roadway and roadside lighting that blinds a motorist, even momentarily, can be fatal; older Americans are particularly at risk. The eye takes time to adjust from excessive brightness (common at gasoline service stations) to less bright areas (as you pull out onto the darker roadway). Impaired vision during such “transient adaptation” can pose hazards for pedestrians as well.


While outdoor lighting may reduce the fear of crime, it can also attract criminals, illuminating their tasks and creating deep shadows to hide in. In 1977 and again in 1997, investigations by the U.S. Justice Department concluded that there is no meaningful evidence that street lighting affects the level of crime. Light pollution can harm plants and animals. All earth’s creatures have evolved over thousands of years by adapting to a world that is dark at night. The loss of true darkness can alter the growth cycle of trees, weakening them and making them more susceptible to disease and severe weather. Birds, fish, frogs, moths, and plankton are just some of the animals whose behavior has been shown to be affected by increasing nighttime light--often with disastrous results.


Sky glow is obliterating the stars. Satellite images show one huge blob of light running down the Eastern seaboard almost solidly from Maine to Virginia; the epidemic of wasted uplight has become so severe that two thirds of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way. A dark sky full of shimmering stars is a thing of great beauty--a source of inspiration and information to diverse cultures across the centuries. Shouldn’t we preserve it for ourselves and for our children? Source of above: SELENE

How can you help?


1. Learn more about the problem in New York.


2. It’s easy to eliminate any light pollution that may be coming from your property.

a) If an outdoor light is aimed down and the bulb fully recessed inside a cap or shield, stray rays will not escape into the sky or onto your neighbor’s property.

b) If you have any dusk-to-dawn lighting, a motion-sensor control will save money on your electric bill and be more effective at discouraging intruders.


3. Encourage your neighbors and the businesses you deal with to do the same!


4. Contact your state and local government representatives and let them know you support legislation and building code amendments requiring fully shielded lighting.


For additional information: International Dark-Sky Association 3225 North First Avenue Tucson, AZ 85719 520/293-3198


For an excellent detailed guide on light pollution click here-> elightspot.


Support the current New York Anti Light Pollution Legislation, The Healthy, Safe, and Energy Efficient Outdoor Lighting Act (bill S2714A-2023 in the State Senate) or similar legislation being currently reviewed. This legislation would begin to curb light pollution in the your state by mandating fully shielded fixtures for streetlighting and on government property and by providing a basis for resolving light trespass complaints.


Letters to the Senate are extremely important to help counter well-funded opposition by the utilities that profit from wasted light and the manufacturers who have been slow to develop the types of fixtures that curtail waste, glare, and trespass. Please write to your State senator today and, for maximum impact, send copies of your letter to your state Senator, state Majority Leader and your Governor. Addresses and a sample letter are available on the "LP Legislation" page of the SELENE Website. To really have your voice carry, there's also a postcard there you can download, print, and distribute to your friends and neighbors.


Please contact the NY State Citizens Services line at phone # (518) 474-1041 with your comments or this simple message. "I'm a New York State voter. Please support The Healthy, Safe, and Energy Efficient Outdoor Lighting Act."


Not sure who your state legislator's are? To get contact information, or to locate your state senator go to Click on the "Senators" button on the Senate Home Page, then click on "Senate Lookup by Zip Code". To find your assembly member go to Look under "Your Assembly Member" for "Click Here to Search by Zip Code".
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