Causes, extent and effects of light pollution

TAB Working Report and TAB's policy brief in English summarise the state of scientific knowledge on light pollution and its effects on humans, animals and plants and presents options for action to protect against light emissions.
Cover TAB-Fokus 25 Light pollution
Light pollution - extent, effects and approaches.

In addition to the intended effects, the increasing spread of artificial outdoor lighting also has undesirable side-effects. Artificial lighting can, for example, influence the biological day-night rhythm and thus the overall structure of the natural balance, because light is an important zeitgeber to whose natural rhythm humans, animals and plants have adapted over long periods of time. It is also suspected that permanently or periodically altered light conditions caused by artificial lighting can have negative effects on human health.

However, the long-term consequences for biotic communities, entire populations or even landscapes are still poorly understood and researched. Against this background, TAB was commissioned to conduct a study on the non-intended effects of artificial outdoor lighting. The TAB working report summarises the state of scientific knowledge with regard to the extent and trends of this light pollution as well as its economic and socio-cultural, human-medical and ecological effects.

On the basis of these findings and current lighting technology and lighting design options, options for action are derived which can support a reduction in light pollution. These include, for example, proposals for research and funding programmes, measurement and monitoring systems, control instruments, possibilities for the development of integrated local and regional lighting concepts, and aspects of sensible guidance for federal, state and local authorities to support planning and legal matters, e.g. with regard to the significance of industry standards for street, building and other outdoor lighting.

With regard to possible regulatory approaches and measures of light emission protection, the activities of some European neighbouring countries are also described, which have, for example, passed laws against light pollution and set limits for lighting intensities.

The main findings of the report are also presented in the associated TAB-Fokus issues (de/en).

22 July 2020


Further information: