Dr. Mario Motta, cardiologist, former board member of the American Medical Association and light pollution expert, gave a presentation on the effects of excessive blue light on human health and the environment Oct. 12 at Warehouse 1-10 in Magdalena. His presentations was part of the DARK/ SKY/ LAND art exhibit, a collaboration of art and astronomy.

Dr. Mario Motta

Dr. Mario Motta

According to Motta, in the 1980s researchers were suspicious that light was related to breast cancer rates and over the years there has been numerous studies and proof that have not only confirmed that suspicion but also reveal its connection to other endocrine cancers such as thyroid, prostate and pancreatic.

“This is not speculation, these are proven studies,” Motta said.

Motta explained that light, especially blue light, is a known melatonin suppressor. Melatonin is an important hormone that stimulates our immune system and sleep cycles. At night when you sleep your body produces t-cells and other cells that go around the body and clean up, every person makes 10 to 20 cancer cells every day, from birth, said Motta. He explained that people produce millions of cells every day, but our cells have limited life spans and every few months we are basically a new person. When we produce bad cells most of the time they die off, but some will survive and cause problems. The t cells are important because they are responsible for killing those survivors.

“Melatonin stimulates the immune system to work more efficiently,” Motta said “ If you suppress melatonin just a little bit then your immune system is a little less efficient, then a few of the bad cells have a higher likelihood of escaping detection and surviving and cancer is born. That’s the mechanism of how this works, and that’s been proven over and over again.”

Motta said that melatonin suppression also has an impact on our circadian rhythm, influencing our sleep and mood. It also has been linked to depression and weight gain, which can increase our chances of diabetes and coronary events.
According to Motta, humans aren’t the only ones who having negative health issues from light pollution, it’s been proven that it’s killing wildlife too. From birds, to bees, to fish and turtles and even trees and plankton, the effects are daunting, especially for our pollinators.

On the issue of lights and safety, Motta soke to his experiences working with cities on their lights. He found that most of the accidents were caused in places that had too much lighting where it would cause glare and blind drivers.
“You’re killing people, because people can’t see,” Motta said. “More light doesn’t mean less accidents, bad lighting means more accidents.”

He explained that over the years cities have caught on and many are replacing 5000k lights which are associated with light pollution, with lower numbers such as 3000k to prevent the glare. The change is not only cost effective but allows for better visibility at night. What’ more is he said that they’ve found that it hasn’t increased crime like cities expected.

“We waste 7 billion dollars in energy lighting up the sky,” Motta said.
Motta said that over the years it’s come to the attention of public leaders. The United Nation is trying to promote dark sky oasis around the world and many countries and cities are adopting new policies for responsibility lighting.

For more information on Dr. Mario Motta and light pollution please visit: https://www.mariomottamd.com/