City Cast

Another Reason Chicagoans Should Turn Off Lights? Light Pollution

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on September 21
Aerial view of Chicago

Aerial view of Chicago. (Avalon / Universal Images Group / Getty)

Chicagoans are urged to turn off their lights this time of year to aid birds as they migrate south. But there’s another reason residents should keep their lights off: light pollution.

What is Light Pollution?

Excess artificial lighting of night skies in cities caused by street lamps, homes, office buildings, and billboards.

Chicago skyline at night

Chicago skyline at night. (Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto / Getty)

How is Chicago Affected?

  • Animals’ migration, habitat formation, and sleeping patterns can be affected.
  • People’s circadian rhythms can be disrupted.
  • Stargazing in the city with the naked eye is nearly impossible, and becoming more difficult in the Chicago suburbs. That’s why some stargazers are going to more rural areas.

How Can Light Pollution in Chicago Be Fought?

The city has already replaced most streetlights with LED lights, a Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson told the Tribune.

But Ken Walczak, senior manager of the Adler Planetarium’s Far Horizons program, said LED lights still emit blue light and contribute to sky glow. Instead, he said the city should dim street lights and only use the amount of light it needs.

Plus, the city should also regulate the light pollution that businesses — like parking lots and gas stations — emit.

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