Dimming Light on the Situation

lights-of-the-city-nightLights of the City Night. Digital image. Win Articles. N.p., May 2013. Web. 5 Oct. 2016.


It is without question that Chicago is one of the number one cities when it comes down to a lot of aspects. Number one in best deep dish pizza, best cubs fans, best hockey team, and most importantly number one at being the brightest. Chicago has over 400, 000 public outdoor lights, all contributing to light pollution and health consequences. Light pollution is defined as “the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light [that] can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and our climate” (International Dark-Sky Association). Using a 100 watt light-bulb every night for a year, is equivalent to burning half a ton of coal. Think of the tons of coal Chicago is burning!

The public health risk is undeniable. Humans living under condition of high light pollution are placed under a greater risk of developing breast or prostate cancer. These bright lights also interrupt daily sleep patterns which can potentially lead to other health problems. Unless you live under a rock, this affects you. Here’s more bad news, Mayor Rahm Emanuel intends to make Chicago into “an iconic metropolis” by adding even more lights to its riverwalk, bridges, buildings and CTA platforms. Not only will more lights cause more pollution and health risks, but lets face it, the number of birds crashing into windows will be substantially higher.

There are things being done to improve the situation. The city of Chicago is planning on replacing 85% of their lights with energy-efficient LED models. These lights are said to “produce the same amount of light while using a fraction of the electricity” (Shepherd). They are also supposed to last three times longer, making them cost efficient in many ways. Other approaches include replacing them with fully shielded light fixtures that face down, directing the light toward the necessary space it needs to light up. Also, there should be a limit of lights in a certain area; and if an area is in no need of light, then it’s better off that way. It is important to mention that it’s been proven that brighter streets don’t always mean safer streets. Chicago has plenty to work on, but this one change will improve the lives of virtually everyone, as well as the environment.


  • Byrne, John. “Chicago Wants to Light up ‘iconic Metropolis’ for Tourists.” Tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Chicago Tribune, 04 June 2014. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.
  • Koziarz, Jay. “New Street Lights to Replace Chicago’s Orange Glow.” Curbed Chicago. N.p., 18 Apr. 2016. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.
  • “Light Pollution.” International Dark-Sky Association. N.p., 19 July 2016. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.
  • “Lighting, Crime and Safety.” International Dark-Sky Association. N.p., 05 Oct. 2015. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.
  • Shepherd, Kate. “Chicago Will Lose Its Orange, Nighttime Glow Thanks To An Outdoor Lighting Revamp.” Chicagoist. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.

One thought on “Dimming Light on the Situation

  1. LED lights are a great way to reduce light pollution, and incorporating solar panels to street lights or buildings can also be a way to reduce energy waste. I agree, light pollution is unnatural and affects the health of humans, and messes with animal migration and behavior, like the amount of “birds crashing into windows.” Residents of Chicago can change their own habits by replacing their high-wattage light bulbs to LED light bulbs, and overall being aware of their energy and light usage.
    Here’s a petition to reduce light pollution in Chicago, also further explaining human and environmental health risks of light pollution:


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