We live in a city; we breathe, see, hear, and smell every day. Our health is closely linked with everything in the city — that’s why pollution came into my brain first when I saw the topic: public health.
Chicago as a metropolitan city, has large population and developed public transportation, ranked NO.2 of the number of completed or topped out skyscrapers in the US and NO.5 in the world. We enjoy the convenience that a metropolitan city offers us, but we also have to afford the negative effects that the development brought to us: the pollution.
The main pollution in urban area is air pollution. In addition to the industrialization, the major pollution source may come from transportation. As Barney Cohen said, “Congestion in many large cities can also be extremely severe and air pollution is now a serious environmental concern in many cities. Concentrations of carbon monoxide, lead, and suspended particulate matter in many large cities greatly exceed World Health Organization guidelines. Among the greatest environmental health concerns are exposure to fine particulate matter and to lead which contributes to learning disability in young children.” As time goes on, most of our generations would born and grow up in urban area, the impact of pollution on human health may be more and more serious.
Here is the data of Chicago pollution. Surprisedly, the most serious pollution in Chicago is not air pollution.
According to the statistics by numbeo.com, the light pollution becomes the major pollution in Chicago area.
We might not realize that we are exposing to the light pollution all the time. During the day times, it could be the sunlight reflected by glass buildings; at night, it could be street lights and car lights. People rarely know the harm of light pollution, according to international dark-sky association’s research, “artificial light at night can negatively affect human health, increasing risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer and more.”, “Exposure to blue light at night is particularly harmful. Unfortunately, most LEDs used for outdoor lighting — as well as computer screens, TVs, and other electronic displays — create abundant blue light.” What’s more, based on the report by Lynne Peeples, an Environment and Public Health Reporter, “Perhaps more surprising are findings from a recent study in Los Angeles, which suggest that pervasive nighttime illumination could exacerbate air pollution.” As I mentioned at the beginning, if light pollution brings us more air pollution, there is no doubt that would threaten public health seriously.
To address the problem of light pollution in urban area, scientist suggest to use less blue light for city lights, at least, installing black-out curtains in apartments. Obviously, asking the public spend own money on curtains is not a good idea and not supported by urban sustainability. In my opinion, we should turn off the lights at night as much as possible: which could not only help with our health, but also save the energy for the city and improve the urban sustainability.