BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Two bills that would reduce light pollution and increase dark-sky visibility are up for debate on Beacon Hill this week.
The identical bills being proposed in the State House and Senate would "promote energy efficient lighting, conserve energy, regulate outdoor night lighting, and reduce light pollution."
The effort is being led by the Massachusetts chapter of the International Dark Sky Association. The group's Vice President, Tim Brothers, is also manager of MIT's Wallace Astrophysical Observatory.
Brothers told WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama that excessive light doesn't just get in the way of astronomical research; it has also been proven to be a credible threat to human health, especially blue-rich lights and LEDs.
"Doctors and scientists have linked [Blue Light] to everything from obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, anxiety, sleep disorders, and the list goes on and on," said Brothers.
Researchers have found that excessive light at night in general contributes to a disruption of human and animal circadian rhythms through the suppression of melatonin (the endogenous chemical that helps induce sleep.)
According to chief sponsor of the bill State Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem, the legislation would require that any light fixtures on public roadways that need replacing are replaced by fully-shielded fixtures, with the appropriate lumens for good night time driving visibility.
Senator Creem said light pollution is also known to negatively impact many different forms of wildlife, so the bill would also preserve habitat for several animal species that rely on day and night light variations for survival.
"It's not only what you see. There's been an extinction of some birds, they're dying as a result," Creem said. "There's a whole host of issues with light pollution."
Creem said the bill would not be "a big thing to do to," however she said it would require "state funded projects at the municipal and state level, to use fully shielded exterior lighting for new or replacement installation."
Creem also noted that the legislation is supported by the American Medical society and the environmental community.
So far some 24 lawmakers have signed on to co-sponsor the bill.
WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports: