Deloitte: Poland enters the phase of economic expansion

The divergence of economic moods in Poland...

Two Years On: War in Ukraine and Its Global Impact

On February 24, 2022, a full-scale Russian...

Ombudsman seeks national regulations against light pollution in Poland, citing health and environmental concerns

LAWOmbudsman seeks national regulations against light pollution in Poland, citing health and environmental concerns

The glow of light hovering every night above each city is an issue not only for astronomers, whose observations of space objects become more difficult even with advanced telescopes, but according to scientists, it is a serious threat to human health and the state of the natural environment. The Ombudsman for Civil Rights drew attention to the issue of light pollution and seeks to regulate this matter in legislation. The initiative is supported by scientists in fields such as medicine and space exploration.

“Many individuals and public institutions do not fully realize that artificial light, in addition to being an undeniable civilizational achievement and also serving to save energy, poses threats to health, and even human life,” said Dr. Marcin Wiącek, Professor at University of Warsaw and Ombudsman for Civil Rights, during the interdisciplinary seminar “The Dark Side of Light – About Light Pollution and Its Impact on Our Life”.

Light pollution, also known as photopollution, is a concept that is increasingly appearing in global discussions. It can be simply defined as the disruption of the natural night-time environment by light emitted, for instance, by outdoor lighting. This particularly concerns the lighting of roads, streets, squares, industrial plants, and illumination of various objects.

“LED diodes, LED lighting are technologies primarily used for street lighting. This light is not only directed at places that should be illuminated, but it also spreads to private homes, and therefore people are constantly exposed to it. Many local governments realize this problem and these lights are now more regulated, but this issue is still not sufficiently recognized by the central government. Good intentions from local governments are not enough, legal regulations at the national level are needed,” says Professor Marcin Wiącek.

In 2023, the Light Pollution Think Tank prepared the first comprehensive diagnosis of light pollution in Poland. According to the report, this negative phenomenon is intensifying and is widespread in our country. In 2022, the amount of light emitted into the sky was the highest in the history of measurements. The rate was 6% higher compared to the average for the 2012–2021 decade.

The situation is so severe that the Ombudsman has decided to appeal to the Ministry of Development and Technology to introduce regulations concerning the use of artificial light. The Ombudsman’s office has been drawing attention to this problem for a decade. During this time, only one imprecise provision of the regulations appeared in the Polish legal system, which regulates the issues of light screens.

One of the consequences is difficulty with sleep and insomnia, which negatively impact health and relationships.

“In addition to that, experts inform us that long-term exposure to artificial light can also cause neurologic diseases or cancer. Therefore, the use of artificial light should be regulated not only in legal regulations but also subject to appropriate control,” claims Professor Marcin Wiącek.

“Unfortunately, we have lost control over the amount of light we produce and emit into the night environment,” said Piotr Nawalkowski, president of the Polaris-OPP Association. He emphasizes that discussions about the protection of the dark sky should be approached in the same way as problems with other environmental pollutants.

Despite the lack of national regulations in Poland, some municipalities have taken actions related to a rational dark sky policy. One of the leading examples is Sopotnia Wielka in the Jeleśnia commune in the Silesian Province. It is the first municipality in Poland and the 10th in Europe that can boast the status of Dark Sky Community.

Check out our other content
Related Articles
The Latest Articles