Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman announced this week that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has signed legislation to further reduce light pollution from county-owned facilities. The introductory resolution was unanimously approved by the legislature at the last general meeting on September 12. This local law is an amendment to previous legislation, which was sponsored by Legislator Schneiderman in 2004.
This law requires all outdoor lighting that is purchased or replaced by the county to use “warm-white” light sources. Under this legislation, the county will commit to utilizing only warmer-colored outdoor lights at its facilities to protect the health and well-being of residents and to protect the county’s ecological systems.
It is required that Suffolk County use lighting fixtures with a correlated color temperature no higher than 3500 Kelvin for all lamps purchased through December 31, 2015. Any new lighting fixtures bought after December 31, 2015 will have a correlated color temperature no higher than 3000 Kelvin. Correlated color temperature is the perceived color of the light emitted by a lamp, which is expressed in Kelvin (K) units. The higher the Kelvin rating, the “cooler” or more blue the light will be.
Advances in light technology over the past decade have created high-quality, energy efficient lighting in several forms, with high brightness LEDs becoming the most popular. Most LED “white” light has a substantial blue component, referred to as “blue-rich white light.”
The Suffolk County Legislature has determined blue-rich white light is linked with a higher incidence of glare, particularly outdoors from dusk to dawn. This type of light is also more difficult for human eyes to process as people age. Blue-rich white light also creates higher levels of light pollution in the night sky, introducing a portion of the light spectrum that is not currently contributing substantially to such pollution. Blue-rich white light is also associated with disruption of circadian rhythms and melatonin secretion in humans and animals. Disruption of these functions can change the instinctual habits of wildlife living near such light sources.
“This amendment to my previous legislation to limit excess lighting is an important step forward in efforts to protect human health and the health of our wildlife and to insure that we save money on energy costs and reduce unnecessary light that limits our ability to enjoy the beauty of the night sky,” said Legislator Schneiderman.
“Much has been learned over the past decade or two about the harmful effects of outdoor lighting on the environment and on human health,” said Gail Clyma, Chair of the Southampton Town Dark Skies Advisory Committee. “In recent years it has become increasingly clear that light with a high blue content is the most serious offender. I commend Legislator Schneiderman for sponsoring this important piece of legislation.”