ISS Astronauts Say LEDs are Making Light Pollution Worse

Astronauts aboard the ISS have made an interesting discovery earlier in the week after comparing photos of Milan they’ve taken over the past few years. According to astronauts, the widespread adoption of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is producing a lot more light pollution than their predecessors.


Swapping to LEDs

LEDs are known for being more eco-friendly since they are better at conserving energy. Cities across the globe are switching to LEDs since they’re typically brighter, in addition. The city of Milan made a full transition in 2015, and New York City has recently installed over 250,000 LEDs in street lights. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, many are saying that light pollution is causing them a lot of discomfort.

According to Tech Insider, many Brooklyn residents specifically mention that LEDs are so bright, they’re beginning to invade their homes. Those complaints might seem quaint, but check out the photos from the ISS below to see what all the commotion is about.


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Astronauts Compare Images of Milan Then and Now

Back in 2012, Astronauts aboard the ISS took a photograph of Milan prior to the LED installs in the center of the city. Taking a look at the picture, you can see that the light levels emitted from the suburbs are roughly equivalent to what’s being produced by the city center. They aren’t exact, but they’re pretty close.

Now, taking a look at the second picture, you can see one of two things happening: the cameras onboard the ISS seemed to have snapped a much cleaner shot, and the light levels coming from the city center are now more distinct than the suburbs. You can also see that the light coming from the suburbs gives off warmer reds than the green and blues from the city center, which contributes to making it brighter.

Negative Consequences

The light pollution is also having a negative impact on the environment. The photos from the ISS show that the LEDs are giving off more blue and green light, which has a tendency to obscure the night’s sky, which is disrupting the day and night cycle. As you might expect, this is having a negative impact on nocturnal animals, hunting and migration patterns, and even their internal physiology.

Animals aren’t the only ones who suffer under these conditions, though. Our melatonin levels are regulated by day and night cycles as well. If our bodies become confused by the light pollution then it will cause our bodies to produce less melatonin, which can cause sleep disorders, headaches, anxiety, and even obesity.

Astronauts aboard the ISS will continue to take pictures of various cities in order to better understand how light pollution is spreading across the globe.


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