Light pollution: a case for federal regulation

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Title: Light pollution: a case for federal regulation
Author: Berthaume, Timothy
Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to examine the body of evidence concerning light pollution and exposure to artificial light and determine if the scientific research warrants regulatory oversight in the United States. The first question that guided this effort was: Does improper artificial lighting and exposure to light-at-night constitute a risk to human health and safety? The follow up question being: Is light pollution a concern to ecological systems, and if so to what extent? A comprehensive literature review was conducted to ascertain the status of the research—if any—in these two areas and what the findings were. The overarching purpose of this thesis was to answer the primary question: Does the scientific research on light pollution and exposure to light-at-night exposure make a case for regulatory oversight, within the mandate of the EPA? The questions were illuminated by conducting a thorough literature review, doing an informal email survey, and by in-depth interviews with people researching artificial light and with individuals in the EPA. The study concluded that there is no ready consensus to be reached in this area. Such a disparate topic as light pollution does not readily lend itself to an easy answer. However, the findings show that light pollution and light-at-night exposure do have some negative impact. This is especially true in regards to the night sky and the biota. Whether the EPA should be involved in regulating it is not entirely clear. Their mission statement leads one to presume that certain effects of light pollution do fall under their mandate. More research to quantify the effects of artificial light on humans is critically needed to show causation between artificial light exposure and health problems.
Record URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1850/4627
Date: 2007

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