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Light pollution is the presence of anthropogenic and artificial light in the night environment. It is exacerbated by excessive, misdirected or obtrusive use of light, but even carefully used light fundamentally alters natural conditions. As a major side-effect of urbanization, it is blamed for compromising health, disrupting ecosystems and spoiling aesthetic environments.

The majority of Italian regions require "zero upward light", which usually implies use of overa

Full cutoff fixtures first became available in 1959 with the introduction of General Electric's M100 fixture.[90]

A full cutoff fixture, when correctly installed, reduces the chance for light to escape above the plane of the horizontal. Light released above the horizontal may sometimes be lighting an intended target, but often serves no purpose. When it enters into the atmosphere, light contributes to sky glow. Some governments and organizations are now considering, or have already implemented, full cutoff fixtures in street lamps and stadium lighting.

The use of full cutoff fixtures help to reduce sky glow by preventing light from escaping above the horizontal. Full cutoff typically reduces the visibility of the lamp and reflector within a luminaire, so the effects of glare are also reduced. Campaigners also commonly argue that full cutoff fixtures are more efficient than other fixtures, since light that would otherwise have escaped into the atmosphere may instead be directed towards the ground. However, full cutoff fixtures may also trap more light in the fixture than other types of luminaires, corresponding to lower luminaire efficiency, suggesting a re-design of some luminaires may be necessary.

The use of full cutoff fixtures can allow for lower wattage lamps to be used in the fixtures, producing the same or sometimes a better effect, due to being more carefully controlled. In every lighting system, some sky glow also results from light reflected from the ground. This reflection can be reduced, however, by being careful to use only the lowest wattage necessary for the lamp, and setting spacing between lights appropriately.[91] Assuring luminaire setback is greater than 90° from highly reflective surfaces also diminishes reflectance.

A common criticism of full cutoff lighting fixtures is that they are sometimes not as aesthetically pleasing to look at. This is most likely because historically there has not been a large market specifically for full cutoff fixtures, and because people typically like to see the source of illumination. Due to the specificity with their direction of light, full cutoff fixtures sometimes also require expertise to install for maximum effect.

The effectiveness of using full cutoff roadway lights to combat light pollution has also been called into question. According to design investigations, luminaires with full cutoff distributions (as opposed to cutoff or semi cutoff, compared here)[92] have to be closer together to meet the same light level, uniformity and glare requirements specified by the IESNA. These simulations optimized the height and spacing of the lights while constraining the overall design to meet the IESNA requirements, and then compared total uplight and energy consumption of different luminaire designs and powers. Cutoff designs performed better than full cutoff designs, and semi-cutoff performed better than either cutoff or full cutoff. This indicates that, in roadway installations, over-illumination or poor uniformity produced by full cutoff fixtures may be more detrimental than direct uplight created by fewer cutoff or semi-cutoff fixtures. Therefore, the overall performance of existing systems could be improved more by reducing the number of luminaires than by switching to full cutoff designs.

However, using the definition of "light pollution" from some Italian regional bills (i.e., "every irradiance of artificial light outside competence areas and particularly upward the sky") only full cutoff design prevents light pollution. The Italian Lombardy region, where only full cutoff design is allowed (Lombardy act no. 17/2000, promoted by Cielobuio-coordination for the protection of the night sky), in 2007 had the lowest per capita energy consumption for public lighting in Italy. The same legislation also imposes a minimum distance between street lamps of about four times their height, so full cut off street lamps are the best solution to reduce both light pollution and electrical power usage.

Adjusting types of light sources

Several different types of light sources exist, each having a variety of properties that determine their appropriateness for different tasks. Particularly notable characteristics are efficiency, and spectral power distribution. It is often the case that inappropriate light sources have been selected for a task, either due to ignorance or because more appropriate lighting technology was unavailable at the time of installation. Therefore, poorly chosen light sources often contribute unnecessarily to light pollution and energy waste. By updating light sources appropriately, it is often possible to reduce energy use and pollutive effects while simultaneously improving efficiency and visibility.

Some types of light sources are listed in order of energy efficiency in the

Several different types of light sources exist, each having a variety of properties that determine their appropriateness for different tasks. Particularly notable characteristics are efficiency, and spectral power distribution. It is often the case that inappropriate light sources have been selected for a task, either due to ignorance or because more appropriate lighting technology was unavailable at the time of installation. Therefore, poorly chosen light sources often contribute unnecessarily to light pollution and energy waste. By updating light sources appropriately, it is often possible to reduce energy use and pollutive effects while simultaneously improving efficiency and visibility.

Some types of light sources are listed in order of energy efficiency in the table below (figures are approximate maintained values), and include their visual skyglow impact, relative to LPS lighting.[93][93][94]

Many astronomers request that nearby communities use low pressure sodium lights or amber Aluminium gallium indium phosphide LED as much as possible, because the principal wavelength emitted is comparably easy to work around or in rare cases filter out.[95] The low cost of operating sodium lights is another feature. In 1980, for example, San Jose, California, replaced all street lamps with low pressure sodium lamps, whose light is easier for nearby Lick Observatory to filter out. Similar programs are now in place in Arizona and Hawaii. Such yellow light sources also have significantly less visual skyglow impact,[96] so reduce visual sky brightness and improve star visibility for everyone.

Disadvantages of low pressure sodium lighting are that fixtures must usually be larger than competing fixtures, and that color cannot be distinguished, due to its emitting principally a single wavelength of light (see security lighting). Due to the substantial size of the lamp, particularly in higher wattages such as 135 W and 180 W, control of light emissions from low pressure sodium luminaires is more difficult. For applications requiring more precise direction of light (such as narrow roadways) the native lamp efficacy advantage of this lamp type is decreased and may be entirely lost compared to high pressure sodium lamps. Allegations that this also leads to higher amounts of light pollution from luminaires running these lamps arise principally because of older luminaires with poor shielding, still widely in use in the UK and in some other locations. Modern low-pressure sodium fixtures with better optics and full shielding, and the decreased skyglow impacts of yellow light preserve the luminous efficacy advantage of low-pressure sodium and result in most cases is less energy consumption and less visible light pollution. Unfortunately, due to continued lack of accurate information,[97] many lighting professionals continue to disparage low-pressure sodium, contributing to its decreased acceptance and specification in lighting standards and therefore its

Disadvantages of low pressure sodium lighting are that fixtures must usually be larger than competing fixtures, and that color cannot be distinguished, due to its emitting principally a single wavelength of light (see security lighting). Due to the substantial size of the lamp, particularly in higher wattages such as 135 W and 180 W, control of light emissions from low pressure sodium luminaires is more difficult. For applications requiring more precise direction of light (such as narrow roadways) the native lamp efficacy advantage of this lamp type is decreased and may be entirely lost compared to high pressure sodium lamps. Allegations that this also leads to higher amounts of light pollution from luminaires running these lamps arise principally because of older luminaires with poor shielding, still widely in use in the UK and in some other locations. Modern low-pressure sodium fixtures with better optics and full shielding, and the decreased skyglow impacts of yellow light preserve the luminous efficacy advantage of low-pressure sodium and result in most cases is less energy consumption and less visible light pollution. Unfortunately, due to continued lack of accurate information,[97] many lighting professionals continue to disparage low-pressure sodium, contributing to its decreased acceptance and specification in lighting standards and therefore its use. Another disadvantage of low-pressure sodium lamps is that some people find the characteristic yellow light very displeasing aesthetically.[citation needed]

Because of the increased sensitivity of the human eye to blue and green wavelengths when viewing low-luminances (the Purkinje effect) in the night sky, different sources produce dramatically different amounts of visible skyglow from the same amount of light sent into the atmosphere.

In some cases, evaluation of existing plans has determined that more efficient lighting plans are possible. For instance, light pollution can be reduced by turning off unneeded outdoor lights, and lighting stadiums only when there are people inside. Timers are especially valuable for this purpose. One of the world's first coordinated legislative efforts to reduce the adverse effect of this pollution on the environment began in Flagstaff, Arizona, in the U.S. There, more than three decades of ordinance development has taken place, with the full support of the population,[98] often with government support,[99] with community advocates,[100] and with the help of major local observatories,[101] including the United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station. Each component helps to educate, protect and enforce the imperatives to intelligently reduce detrimental light pollution.

One example of a lighting plan assessment can be seen in a report originally commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in the United Kingdom, and now available through the United Kingdom, and now available through the Department for Communities and Local Government.[102] The report details a plan to be implemented throughout the UK, for designing lighting schemes in the countryside, with a particular focus on preserving the environment.

In another example, the city of Calgary has recently replaced most residential street lights with models that are comparably energy efficient.[103] The motivation is primarily operation cost and environmental conservation. The costs of installation are expected to be regained through energy savings within six to seven years.

The Swiss Agency for Energy Efficiency (SAFE) uses a concept that promises to be of great use in the diagnosis and design of road lighting, "consommation électrique spécifique (CES)", which can be translated into English as "specific electric power consumption (SEC)".[104] Thus, based on observed lighting levels in a wide range of Swiss towns, SAFE has defined target values for electric power consumption per metre for roads of various categories. Thus, SAFE currently recommends an SEC of two to three watts per meter for roads less than ten metres wide (four to six for wider roads). Such a measure provides an easily applicable environmental protection constraint on conventional "norms", which usually are based on the recommendations of lighting manufacturing interests, who may not take into account environmental criteria. In view of ongoing progress in lighting technology, target SEC values will need to be periodically revised downwards.

A newer method for predicting and measuring various aspects of light pollution was described in the journal Lighting Research & Technology (September 2008). Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center have developed a comprehensive method called Outdoor Site-Lighting Performance (OSP), which allows users to quantify, and thus optimize, the performance of existing and planned lighting designs and applications to minimize excessive or obtrusive light leaving the boundaries of a property. OSP can be used by lighting engineers immediately, particularly for the investigation of glow and trespass (glare analyses are more complex to perform and current commercial software does not readily allow them), and can help users compare several lighting design alternatives for the same site.[105]

In the effort to reduce light pollution, researchers have developed a "Unified System of Photometry", which is a way to measure how much or what kind of street lighting is needed. The Unified System of Photometry allows light fixtures to be designed to reduce energy use while maintaining or improving perceptions of visibility, safety, and security.[106] There was a need to create a new system of light measurement at night because the biological way in which the eye's rods and cones process light is different in nighttime conditions versus daytime conditions. Using this new system of photometry, results from recent studies have indicated that replacing traditional, yellowish, high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights with "cool" white light sources, such as induction, fluorescent, ceramic metal halide, or LEDs can actually reduce the amount of electric power used for lighting while maintaining or improving visibility in nighttime co

In the effort to reduce light pollution, researchers have developed a "Unified System of Photometry", which is a way to measure how much or what kind of street lighting is needed. The Unified System of Photometry allows light fixtures to be designed to reduce energy use while maintaining or improving perceptions of visibility, safety, and security.[106] There was a need to create a new system of light measurement at night because the biological way in which the eye's rods and cones process light is different in nighttime conditions versus daytime conditions. Using this new system of photometry, results from recent studies have indicated that replacing traditional, yellowish, high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights with "cool" white light sources, such as induction, fluorescent, ceramic metal halide, or LEDs can actually reduce the amount of electric power used for lighting while maintaining or improving visibility in nighttime conditions.[107]

The International Commission on Illumination, also known as the CIE from its French title, la Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage, will soon be releasing its own form of unified photometry for outdoor lighting.