Past Meetup

Presentation: "Unintended Consequences of Artificial Light at Night + Solutions"

This Meetup is past

6 people went


Dear friends,

At first, nearly everyone finds it very, very difficult to comprehend that artificial Light at Night (ALAN) could possibly affect human health in so many different ways from the fetus to the aged. And that knowing this, can help us choose precautionary measurements that may reduce our risks and sometimes even improve our recovery from disease.

Chicago Astronomical Society (established 1862) is hosting a panel discussion regarding how misdirected or poorly timed artificial light at night, sometimes can have unintended consequences, particularly in certain wavelengths, disrupting chronobiology and circadian sleep physiology lending risk to disease and lessening quality of life in humans, and can be harmful to wildlife, ecosystems, and environment as well.

This is an urgent discussion in Chicago because Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in September his interest in replacing nearly 350,000 outdoor lights, including streetlights, park and lakefront lights with bright white blue-rich spectrum LEDs which has the potential to increase Chicago's skyglow 5 times worse than it already is. In addition, Chicago has a strictly enforced mandate (via Mayor J Daley) that streetlights must be chosen and installed so that the light shines from the fixture “to the keyhole of the front door” of the typical residential home. The issue is that this same light easily filters through typical bedroom window curtains, subjecting the sleeping person to melatonin shutdown. In addition, if that person is a cancer patient using Tamoxifen or some of the other chemo drugs, that the light trespass from the streetlight can render Tamoxifen ineffective**. Thus, not only can light trespass increase the risk of cancer, it can kill the cure.

Although the mandate of streetlight to keyhole lighting was well-intentioned, this was before research showed the connection of melatonin shutdown associated with artificial light at night, and the associated increased health risks, with the exception of dim red or dim amber wavelengths, but particularly sensitive to the blue wavelengths.

The Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Infrastructure Trust team put out a Request for Information [ ] for the Chicago Smart Lighting project due on Monday November 16.

The goal of our panel discussion is to inform the public and any public officials who care to attend of the one facet that is often overlooked — the many consequences of light pollution— that ought to be considered when relighting the city of Chicago.

We have a once in a generation chance to install lights that will not trespass into people’s homes; nor add glare to drivers, bikers, and pedestrian eyes; nor upwards into the night sky. We have a chance to restore starlight over the most light-polluted city in the world while still providing effective outdoor lighting that our citizens need. The lighting industry is pushing the bright white blue-rich spectrum. This choice will be a huge mistake.

The panel will be representatives from the LAN &: human health, biodiversity/birds, astronomy, economics/energy/climate, overall LP basic concepts, challenges & solutions. We are allowing time to focus particularly on LAN & human health issues, including quick suggestions for very simple workaround solutions and habits that can minimize risk on a personal or household level, that you can start immediately if you choose.

We are delighted that professors Kristen L. Knutson, PhD will be the chief presenter of LAN and human health, and Fred W. Turek, PhD will join the panel discussion.

Fred W. Turek,PhD (link to research papers)

awarded the 2011 Distinguished Scientist Award, Sleep Research Society, is the Director of the Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology and the Charles & Emma Morrison Professor of Biology in the Department of Neurobiology, both at

Northwestern University (


Presently, Turek's research interests revolve around the genetic, molecular, and neural basis for sleep ( circadian rhythms ( He focuses most of his attention on the role of sleep and circadian clock ( for energy balance (, obesity (, premature birth (, gastrointestinal function (, and depression ([6] (

Turek is currently working on two very interesting circadian research projects with NASA involving the ISS.

“Humans are the only species that disobey their biological clocks on a regular basis,” says Dr. Turek, who was a member of the pioneering Northwestern research team that identified the first clock gene in mammals.


Kristen L. Knutson, PhD (link to research papers)

Assistant Professor

Section of Pulmonary & Critical Care

Department of Medicine

University of Chicago

Association Between Sleep and Cardiometabolic Health

Dr. Knutson is a biomedical anthropologist whose research focuses on the association between sleep and cardiometabolic health in various populations. She is particularly interested in examining the role sleep plays in disease risk as well as identifying physiologic and/or social factors that predict impaired or insufficient sleep because those at increased risk of impaired sleep will also be at increased risk of the consequences of impaired sleep. She is also interested in how sleep may mediate racial or ethnic disparities in health and disease.


Kathy Sexton-Radek

PhDKathy Sexton-Radek, PhD has conducted an active research program in the areas of sleep quality in young adults, sleep disorders assessments, treatment protocols for diagnosed insomnia and treatment outcome of CBTi with young adult sleep for thirty years. She received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Her private practice work as a Sleep Specialist is with the Suburban Pulmonary & Sleep Associates Primary Care Practice in Westmont, IL. She is a member of the Allied medical staff at Hinsdale, LaGrange and Bolingbrook Hospitals. She has been a Professor of Psychology for 29 years at Elmhurst College. She teaches and supervises graduate Clinical Psychology students. Dr Sexton-Radek is the Editor of the Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy and serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Sleep Disorders and Therapy. She is a member of the Sleep Research Society and American Association for Sleep Medicine.

Books about Sleep by Dr Sexton-Radek:

Combating Sleep Disorders by Kathy Sexton-Radek and Gina Graci. New York: Prager Press. ISBN[masked]

Sleep Quality in Young Adultsby Kathy Sexton-Radek. New York: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN[masked]


Annette Prince (

Annette Prince is the director of the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors (CBCM) - ( - bird conservation project with the Chicago Audubon Society. Urban areas throughout the world fatally attract migrating birds to bright lighting. Brought down from their nightly migration - confused and disoriented by lights from towers and buildings - hundreds of thousands of birds are killed or injured as they collide with lighted structures. Chicago Audubon Society administers the Chicago Lights Out program that promotes the voluntary participation of downtown and lakefront buildings to extinguish or dim as much external lighting as possible between the hours of 11 pm and sunrise each night of the spring and fall bird migration season. The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors project recovers thousands of dead and injured birds from over 170 species that are harmed by dangerous lighting, glass and building designs during their passage through the Chicago area.



6:30 PM We have a little Meet & Greet and a little complimentary pizza as guests start coming in. 7:00 PM is the official start of the meeting.

8:45 PM we'll stop for a quick group photo and some cake.

9:00 PM The official close of our meeting. Weather permitting, we'll set up a couple telescopes outside for people who want to take a peek at the planets and moon after the meeting.


Remember, please use Adler's south door entrance -- not the main entrance up the staircase. The south door entrance is seen on the far right of the photo included in the Photo

Because is it after normal museum hours, all doors will be locked, however, the south door is closely monitored by Adler staff. They will welcome you in and direct you to the meeting room.

Please join us for the presentations and join in the Q&A section of the panel discussion. Invite your friends. Let us brainstorm together to reduce unintended consequences of ALAN in our lives for a healthier and happier society.

Dress code is "comfortable”.

Free admission.

RSVP appreciated but not required.


Audrey Fischer

Chicago Astronomical Society, president

Activism for a Starry Chicago Meetup group, leader



“Circadian and Melatonin Disruption by Exposure to Light at Night Drives Intrinsic Resistance to Tamoxifen Therapy in Breast Cancer,” published in the journal Cancer Research,

*** "Bring Back the Stars" 5min film