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Light pollution has doubled in 30 years and that’s anything but good news

Light pollution is only increasing even if the health risks are very real.

Since the 90s, the number of public lampposts has increased by 89% according to ANPCEN, the national association for the protection of the sky and the night environment. In the same last three decades, the amount of light emitted has also doubled or almost (+ 94%). Worrisome figures according to OFB, the French biodiversity observatory, which assures that today no less than 85 of the French territory are affected by light pollution.

This problem, if it prevents amateur or professional astronomers from making quality sky observations, is far from being reduced to this. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Still according to the OFB, light pollution is a great threat to the French plant and animal world. The observatory thus recalls in its annual report that two thirds of invertebrate species and more than a third of vertebrate species live at night, in semi-darkness. These animals therefore have a way of life that is completely disrupted by the light from our lampposts and other advertising signs which form yellowish halos in the sky, visible for miles around.

According to the OFB, the situation is even more cataclysmic with regard to insects. Light would then be the second source of death in these species after pesticides. Shaking up the rhythm of life of the whole animal world, our light is not harmless to humans either. Indeed, many studies warn about the health risks caused by this light pollution. It would be the main responsible for the deterioration of our sleep, but would also block our production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for falling asleep, but also present in our body to regenerate cells, thus limiting the risk of tumors for example.

Encouraging progress

Despite the numbers rising sharply year after year, the OFB is working to ensure that light pollution is recognized for what it is, and that governments take measures to fight against it and thus improve everyone’s nights. . On this point, French legislation has already evolved, which makes France one of the most advanced countries on the issue. In fact, in 2009 the government put in place a law combating light pollution. Thus article 41 of the law known as “Grenelle 1” ensures that “Artificial light emissions likely to present dangers to people […] will be subject to prevention, elimination or limitation measures ”.

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