LED Street Lighting Affects Wildlife, Says Study

Posted: Feb 6 2017, 11:54am CST | by , Updated: Feb 6 2017, 12:00pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

LED Street Lighting Affects Wildlife, Says Study
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LED lights attract insects at night but their effects can be reduced by dimming them or turning them off

Artificial night time lights can affect environment in such ways that are hard to predict. The LED lights on streets not only block our viewing of night sky but disrupt activities and behavior of wildlife as well. This has been confirmed by many previous researches.

The latest study, however, goes one step further and finds that LED lightings at night attract more predatory spiders and beetles towards the bright grasslands but their numbers reduced significantly when these lights were dimmed by 50% and switched off after midnight.

This finding is important since energy-saving light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are replacing conventional bulbs in street lighting. LED lights will roughly account for 69% by 2020. It leads to a great deal of concern about their effects on a larger number of plants and animals.

“The growth of LED lighting is an issue of global concern and the number of documented impacts on the environment is growing rapidly. We are making fundamental changes to the way we light the night-time environment, with potentially profound consequences for a range of species,” said researcher Dr Thomas Davies from University of Exeter, UK.

“Our research shows that local authorities might be able to manage LED lighting in a way that reduces its environmental impacts. We now need to establish whether this is the case for a greater variety of species.”

LEDs use very little energy. Thus, they are less costly than standard bulbs. This sounds a major benefit but that also means there are LED lights on every little corner of the house. This will steadily increase light pollution and also their negative effects on everyone.

Researchers suggest that there is an urgent need for crafting new strategies, so that wildlife can be prevented from unforeseen ecological effects.

"Without appropriate management, our results suggest that the growing use of LED lighting will have impacts on the abundance of predatory invertebrates, potentially leading to knock on effects for other species in grassland food-webs.” Davies said.

When researchers tested different strategies used by local authorities to save money, including changing the spectrum of colors, dimming LEDs and switching them off from midnight to 4am, they found promising results for mitigating their impact.

Turning off lights or at least turning them down not only saves energy but can help save wildlife too.

Dr Davies says. “While these approaches helped to reduce the number of ground dwelling spiders and beetles species affected by LED to varying degrees, our study also shows that avoiding these impacts may ultimately require avoiding the use of LEDs at night and night-time lighting more generally.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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