Light pollution is something to worry about

New research shows 83% of the world lives under light-polluted skies, this can damage human's health.

Light pollution is the alteration of night natural lighting caused by artificial sources of light. Today the 83%of the world lives under light-polluted skies. Besides being an obstacle for astronomers, bright nights also affect night organism and ecosystems.

Researchers from Italy, Germany, the US and Israel have published the "New World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness" in the journal Science Advances in June 10, 2016. The work was led by Fabio Falchi from the Italian Light Pollution and Technology Institute.

Scientists used high resolution satellite imaging to measure light pollution. More so, citizen scientists provided 20% of the data used for calibration, says Christopher Kyba one of the study co-authors.

The most visible effect of light pollution is artificial skyglow. The Milky Way is hidden for more than one third of  humanity, including 80% of North Americans and 60% of Europeans. But the most light polluted country is Singapore, skies are so bright that the eye cannot fully adapt to night vision.

Other highly light polluted countries are Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Argentina and Saudi Arabia. Instead populations least affected by light pollution are Chad, Central African Republic and Madagascar. The largest nonpolluted area is in Greenland, only 0.12% of its area doesn't have pristine skies.

In Latin America Central America and the east coast of South America concentrate most light pollution. Instead, the Amazon maintain less light polluted areas and pristine skies.

Results from the investigation show light pollution is a global concern. Most of Earth's population don't have the opportunity to observe the galaxy because of the luminous fog surrounding the planet. Researchers say this has a potential impact on culture and causes ecological consequences, public health issues and wastes energy and money.

The director of the International Dark-Sky Association, Scott Feierabend considers that "the new atlas acts as a benchmark, which will help to evaluate the success or failure of actions to reduce light pollution in urban and natural areas".

This issue must be addressed immediately because its consequences cannot be instantly mitigated.

Efforts have been made in Lombardia in Italy, Slovenia and parts of Chile. They include the full shielding of lights, using the minimum light for the task and decreasing the total installed flux. Technology could also become an ally in this path with the use of adaptive lighting.

Scientists agree its necessary to use less artificial light not only to recover the view of our skies, but to improve the well-being we've lost due to light polluted skies.

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