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New research into light pollution reveals it's time to see the LIGHT on the blight that harms us all

Viewed from space, the Earth at night is a beautiful sight: the lights of our towns, cities and road networks forming a dazzling web of gold and silver.Artificial light has been credited with reducing crime and boosting industrial growth, as well as letting us work and play for longer.Yet could it also be wreaking havoc on our health? Some experts — and a growing body of research — suggest it is, with our overly-bright, artificially lit lives contributing to modern epidemics such as diabetes, obesity and even cancer.And this isn’t just about our own habits — using glowing mobile phones late at night, for instance — light pollution from street lamps, car lights and shopfronts lit up around the clock could also have a harmful effect.‘Electric light allows us to override the natural light-dark cycle,’ says Professor Steven Lockley, a neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, who studies the effects of light on our bodies.‘It means we can do things like work or socialise when it’s dark, but our biology suffers because really, any light after dusk is unnatural.’ ‘I am persuaded that circadian disruption from electric lighting is contributing to breast cancer, and not only that, but to obesity, diabetes, and depression,’ adds Professor Richard Stevens, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Connecticut, who studies the links between artificial light and health.NOT JUST A PROBLEM FOR BIG CITIES Light pollution is excessive or inappropriate artificial light at night.It comes from many sources: from lightbulbs, TV screens, tablets and smartphones in the home — and from street lights, cars and floodlighting outdoors.If artificial lighting continues to expand at its current rate, scientists predict that twice as much of our planet’s surface will be illuminated by 2050, compared to six years ago.A study published in Science Advances in 2016 found that 83 per cent of the world’s population, and some 99 per cent of people living in Europe and North America, now live under light-polluted skies — in other words, this isn’t only a problem for those who live in big cities.Although some areas of the UK, such as Northumberland, Snowdonia, Exmoor and north-west Scotland still have extremely dark night skies, our cities, and a chunk of England stretching from London up to Liverpool and across to Leeds, are so bright that many of the stars are invisible to us.Yes, car head lights ARE too bright Do you find car headlights blinding? Campaigners say the problem has worsened with the arrival of modern headlamps, such as stronger Xenon or high intensity discharge (HID) lights which produce a harsh blue light that is typically twice as bright as the old soft yellow halogen versions.These have been followed by the newer generation of light-emitting diode (LED) lights that started to appear in 2006 and are fitted to a lot of new cars.Campaigners say modern headlamps produce a harsh blue light that is typically twice as bright as the old s


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