Light pollution in USA and Europe: The good, the bad and the ugly

F. Falchi, R. Furgoni, T. A. Gallaway, N. A. Rybnikova, B. A. Portnov, K. Baugh, P. Cinzano, C. D. Elvidge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Light pollution is a worldwide problem that has a range of adverse effects on human health and natural ecosystems. Using data from the New World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness, VIIRS-recorded radiance and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data, we compared light pollution levels, and the light flux to the population size and GDP at the State and County levels in the USA and at Regional (NUTS2) and Province (NUTS3) levels in Europe. We found 6800-fold differences between the most and least polluted regions in Europe, 120-fold differences in their light flux per capita, and 267-fold differences in flux per GDP unit. Yet, we found even greater differences between US counties: 200,000-fold differences in sky pollution, 16,000-fold differences in light flux per capita, and 40,000-fold differences in light flux per GDP unit. These findings may inform policy-makers, helping to reduce energy waste and adverse environmental, cultural and health consequences associated with light pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109227
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Artificial light at Night (ALAN)
  • Artificial night sky brightness
  • Energy waste
  • Light pollution
  • Sustainable lighting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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