Visual pollution

Among the different pollution types, visual pollution represents a social problem that affects the physical and mental health of individuals who come into contact with it. Many do not know about this type of pollution and that is why it is becoming more frequent to have contact with it and its effects.

Visual pollution

Related topics

Noise pollution ,  environmental pollution

What is visual pollution?

Visual pollution is everything that is in the landscape and that affects or disturbs sight and brain, not being able to assimilate them completely, generates visual stress. This is due to the excessive amount of elements contained in these indoor or outdoor environments. Visual pollution can be caused by waste, raw materials or by the abuse of the physical densities of advertising .

Visual pollution can be in our environment without us realizing how much it can affect us and the consequences it generates through visual over-stimulation that stuns and distracts people’ concentration on the roads or streets of very commercial cities.

Light pollution is one of the most obvious examples of visual pollution and its presence in many advertisements has contributed to traffic accidents and headaches.

Causes of visual pollution

Types of visual contamination, examples of visual pollution.

There are different causes of visual pollution. Among the most frequent we can mention:

  • Excessive use of illuminated billboards and animations on roads.
  • Excessive use of television advertising.
  • Garbage agglomerated in public spaces.
  • Constructions or distortions in natural environments that scare away the fauna of that space.
  • Networks of electrical wiring placed in the cables in a disorderly manner.
  • Urban graffiti .
  • Air traffic.
  • Deteriorated buildings.
  • Parabolic antennas.
  • Pipes in poor condition and external wiring of buildings.

Although it is believed that this over-stimulation generated by visual pollution only affects the area in which it is found, in reality its negative impact permeates other beings. In the case of human beings, over-stimulation in sight generates visual problems and stress in the eyeball because it needs to work harder to assimilate the information. This type of pollution can produce a deterioration in health, causing anxiety, anguish, headaches, nervousness and psychological stress in people.

Also, the amount of visual information on streets and highways can cause distractions and traffic accidents that can put the lives of drivers and pedestrians at risk.

On the other hand, the environment suffers from visual pollution and its consequences can be very severe for fauna and flora. Many species affected by visual pollution have had to migrate from their habitats or have died as a result of deforestation, the construction of signs and electric towers.

In light pollution, which is part of visual pollution, effects have been generated in the night sky , they do not allow the stars and planets to be seen because of the excess light that comes from cities.

Visual pollution can be prevented with a supervised use of outdoor advertising in order that it does not cause visual stimulus saturation in its public, the collection of solid waste from the streets to care for the aesthetics of open spaces, the maintenance of buildings, especially in the remodeling of deteriorated facades, tree cultivation in streets and avenues, reduce the excess of advertising on television and see it with a distance that does not tire the view. Turn off high beams when they are not needed on the road. These are some of the precautions that can be taken in some cities where visual pollution is present.

Types of visual contamination include the following:

  • Billboards.
  • Wired electricity poles.
  • Television antennas.
  • Satellite dishes.
  • Garbage or rubbish dumps.
  • Electricity distribution networks.
  • Excessive traffic signs.
  • Light pollution generated by excess lights.

Among the most obvious examples that can be mentioned, we will cite the spaces where:

  • The excess of light at night does not allow us to see the stars in the sky. This often happens in some capitals of developed countries
  • The excess of luminous fences with animations and movements on motorways and roads. An example of this can be the city of Vegas.
  • The use of computers or televisions very close to the eye. This leads to eye fatigue and headache.
  • The agglomeration of waste in the streets. This can be seen in the misery belts of Brazil.
  • Vehicle high beams can also generate visual pollution. This is very common on highways and highways in many countries.


How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Visual pollution . Recovered on 24 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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  • Published: 13 March 2024

Urban visual pollution: comparison of two ways of evaluation—a case study from Europe

  • Klaudia Borowiak 1 ,
  • Anna Budka 2 ,
  • Marta Lisiak-Zielińska 1 ,
  • Kinga Robaszkiewicz 1 ,
  • Arlinda Cakaj 1 &
  • Tropikë Agaj 2  

Scientific Reports volume  14 , Article number:  6138 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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Metrics details

  • Sustainability
  • Urban ecology

Visual pollution by outdoor advertisements (OAs) of the urban landscape in the old town of Gniezno city (Poland) was the main aim of the presented work. For this purpose, the part of Warszawska Street located near the old market was selected. The detailed objective of the work was to evaluate the effect of OA on the building perception and compare two different methods to check the possibility of their interchangeably potential. The city audit and public opinion about selected buildings were performed. The photographs with and without OAs were also analyzed. The statistical analysis was performed to find the significant differences between these two methods and define differences between groups of respondents. In general, the results revealed the strong effect of the building quality (condition and appearance of the building) on the final score of the building perception. This was valid for both evaluation methods. The significant differences between building perception with and without OAs and groups of respondents were found only for the building with good facade quality. While, in the case of low-quality buildings the perception of the urban landscape was low regardless of the presence of OAs. Moreover, we can primarily conclude that city audit and survey of public opinion can be used interchangeably.

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In relation to social, environmental and cultural issues, the landscape has become one of the main topics for territorial sustainable development 1 . To create a suitable urban landscape, one of the factors that must be paid attention to is visual comfort, which includes the quality, color and brightness of the environment 2 . Landscapes are spatial–temporal systems which are hierarchically related to biotic, abiotic and anthropogenic elements. For landscape assessment, new methods have brought a definition that environment and landscape can be defined as an integrated conception 3 , but unfortunately, they are experiencing quality degradation which is already on the rise and the continued growth, especially in urban areas.

Advertising in the form of a poster appeared in Poland a little later than in Europe—in the nineteenth century. It began to be treated more and more professionally, but its real development took place in the interwar period, when a number of advertising agencies and specialized companies implementing posters in urban spaces were established. From this period has come a great many interesting advertisements, both in terms of content, but also in form. After World War II, neon signs and murals filling entire walls of buildings as advertisements were gaining popularity. Advertising took the form of social advertising carrying an important message to the public. Since 1989, advertising in Poland has been in line with trends in global market—creating positive images of the product and presenting an offer of a modern lifestyle. In the early 1990s, advertising in the media and public spaces was accepted by the public without serious objections. Today, however, our view of it is quite different 4 . The main problem in many Polish cities is both the number of advertising objects, but also their form (including wide variety of size, style and color as well as lack of coherence in the composition). This creates a sense of chaos and lack of spatial order. This problem is particularly relevant for areas located in the historical zones, where outdoor advertisements should be located thoughtfully 5 .

Over the years, outdoor advertising has progressed significantly, from paper signs to illuminating screens and interactive LED billboards. Advertisers use as much as possible of objective elements (facade, wall, urban furniture, permeability, closeness, skyline, readability, mixed and variety of applications, integration) and subjective elements (security, memories, sensory richness, sense of belonging and spatial identity, social solidarity) to rich the highest number of consumers 6 . An oversupply of OA may have the negative impact on public life by influencing cultural consumption patterns 7 , by the impact on mental health 8 , the landscape visual quality 9 , 10 , reduction of property values, affecting site identity, encourage consumption of unnecessarily, damage public places 6 , 11 , distraction of driver especially on major highways 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , impaction on planning strategies 17 and loss of cultural identity 7 . Moreover, lots of city governments do not find it easy to regulate OAs because they don't have any systematic methods to determine the amount of its presence as well as to measure the intensity of its impact on visual quality 18 .

Recently, visual pollution, including OAs, has become increasingly important 19 . However, in comparison to air or water pollution, for which there is a long legacy of investigation in the physical, biological and natural sciences, visual pollution mostly requires a legal (law), cultural, and physical study mostly related to urban areas 19 , 20 , 21 . Mainly in the mid-twentieth century, in terms of evolution, the term ‘visual pollution’ was recognized and researched 21 . Visual pollution is a muddled impact of messiness, disorganization and conquering different items and designs in the landscape like lighting features, street furniture 22 , 23 , media devices and different outdoor advertisements (posts, billboards, works and signs in additions to flags, etc.) 24 . These factors are generally noted in urban conditions and a certain environment as a result of the lack of control, wrong or lack of decisions, applications incompatible with performance, lack of legal requirements, and a lack of culture and education 19 . Each one of those components which a community finds unwanted, unpleasant, intrusive, and upsetting comes under visual pollution. Researchers engaged in assessments of the visual impact of natural landscapes have used the term visual pollution objects (VPO) to define the physical components that have the capacity may impede the view of valuable natural complexes or may contribute to the reduction of visual importance and to reduce the visual quality of the landscape 25

For landscape physiognomy, visual pollution in the form of advertising is a threat 26 , because the increases of outdoor advertisement without aesthetic consideration can be considered as a form of spatial chaos, which means a phenomenon of destruction of the visual landscape 27 . The visual pollution induced by out-of-home advertising has been related to the encroachment of private command over open public spaces, impacting the city life flow 28 , 29 . Moreover, Chmielewski 26 for their study purposes, define visual pollution as the closure of the human field of vision by the features of OAs, which is strong enough to disrupt the perceived character of a landscape. And this definition refers to the influence of OAs in the field of view of the observer in terms of occlusion and distortion of the landscape visual 30 .

The number of studies on assessing the visual attractiveness of landscapes is very large, and this is related to the great variety of used methods, assumed criteria or scales. The main aims and objectives of these methods are also very different. Most of the methods used both in Poland and in the world have focused on natural landscapes with elements of cultural landscapes. There are noticeably fewer methods dedicated to cultural landscapes, including urban areas or visual pollution objects 31 . Many of these methods are expert methods that do not take into account public participation. According to Gruehn and Roth 32 local communities, very often perceive and evaluate the landscape differently than experts, hence there is a need for methods that take into account public perception. City audit is defined as a modular procedure for collecting and processing information on the social, economic and urban diversification of the city 33 . According to Czornik 34 , it is a modern attribute that gives the possibility of the spatial development of the city. The main goals of the city audit are determining the degree of compliance of the condition of the analyzed object with the established criteria, recognizing limitations and indicating directions of changes. This allows the focus the activity of city authorities on achieving social, spatial and economic attractiveness of the managed area, and contributing added value to the city.

Regarding visual pollution, the city audit is a procedure that permits the recognition and identification of zones with existing urban problems, checking the way of using the space in the zones and the prediction of their degradation in the future. In other words, the city audit is an assessment of the harmony of the parameters of an object with the audit standard. The novelty of present study was related to the comparison and selection of reliable city landscape quality method with the stress to OAs influence. We have compared the methods based on the expert knowledge (city audit) and general public opinion (survey), and as a result the conclusion of usefulness of city audit method instead of wide range public questionnaire was analyzed. Hence, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the potential visual pollution of the urban landscape and the historical streets in the old town of Gniezno City, Poland. The detailed objectives were as follows: to compare the evaluation of street visual pollution by city audit method and perception by public opinion (i); to evaluate the effect of OAs on street landscape perception (ii) and to indicate the possibility to use only city audit instead of time-consuming public opinion tests (iii).

City audit and degradation map

The detailed analysis of individual building evaluation revealed the highest number of degradation points in the first category (the building condition of the facade, renovation of space and roads and pavements) was given to the parking lot at Plac 21 Stycznia Street No. 2. The space within the buildings at Warszawska Street No. 27, 29, 30A as 19 and 4, which received 7 points, is also characterized by high degradation. Buildings with a score of 6 or 5 look slightly better, as in case of Warszawska Street No. 1, 2, 3, 11, 16, 21, 26, 26A, 40, 34 and buildings at Farna Street No. 1, 2 and Kościuszki Street No. 54. The other spaces received from 0 to 4 points in total, so the degree of degradation is not extremely high. The scale of changes introduced by the advertisements themselves is the largest for the building located at Warszawska Street No. 16, which is as much as 9 points. Buildings on the street Warszawska Street No. 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15, 32, 34, 37, 38 received 5 or 6 points on the scale of transformation with advertisements. The remaining buildings have a low point rank, and the incidence of advertisements is moderately high there (Fig.  1 ).

figure 1

Degradation map of the individual buildings of Warszawska street (source: own study based on data from National Geodetic and Cartographic Resource).

The subject assessment of the degree of degradation of the street by outdoor advertisements was performed on individual objects of the urban tissue, such as buildings. Based on the assessment made for individual facades and surroundings, the results were classified into four specially designated sectors. The division into sectors was made in accordance with the emerging cross-streets and the character of the buildings.

The Kruskal–Wallis test for city audit in the sectors revealed the lack of significant differences between sectors for both measures. However, the detailed analysis showed some tendencies. The first sector was found with the highest values of both measures as well as the mean measure and with the highest range of observed values. In the case of the second sector measure 1 revealed the lowest range of values and the lowest mean value of all sectors, which means that this sector has the best quality of the building facade. The level of measure 2 in this case was at a similar position in sector 1, with a similar range of values. Sector 3 revealed a relatively small range of values for both measures. Sector 4 was found with the lowest measure 2 value and the small range of values. This sector revealed the lowest measure 2, which means that the negative effect of OAs was the lowest. The confirmation of this observation was noted in mean measure, where the highest value was recorded for sector 1 and the lowest for sector 4 (Fig.  2 ).

figure 2

Average value of urban landscape degradation (measure 1, measure 2, mean measure) in certain sectors of Warszawska street. Chi-squared values and p-value are included for each measure.

The additional analysis was performed to determine the effect of certain measures on the particular building measure. Based on the results of differences between measures 1 and 2 we can conclude that building facade quality had a stronger effect on the final building evaluation (Fig.  3 ).

figure 3

The ascending order of the difference between particular measures 1 and 2.

Questionnaire results

The analysis of individual respondent reliability was performed using the ICC2 (2.1) coefficient in the random ANOVA model for dependent groups. This model was found to be highly statistically significant F = 237.6 (p < 0.000001). Moreover, for a single respondent, the value of the ICC coefficient (2,1) = 0.481 with an appropriate 95% confidence interval (0.286; 0.793). This means that each of respondents evaluated each photograph of buildings with the highest reliability and repeatability of the tendency within an individual evaluation.

The second ICC coefficient (2, 259) = 0.996 with a confidence interval (0.990; 0.999) proves the high consistency of the results obtained from 259 respondents. The high value of this coefficient proves that the judges' ratings were consistent for the individual photos. This may reflect a large variance between subjects (photos) and a small variance between judges' ratings.

The analysis of responses for photographs with and without OAs revealed the variability of significance levels between analyzed social groups. Generally, there is no difference between evaluation by women and men. However, we noticed that the first three photographs' assessments with and without changes varied between these two groups. Moreover, the analysis of significant differences between photographs with and without OAs evaluated by the women group separately indicated the significant difference only for the first two photographs. Similar tendency was noticed for the men group, the two youngest age groups, the group with a high school education and all places of residence. The last two photograph evaluations in terms of the effect of OAs did not vary significantly in almost every social group (Table 1 ).

Generally, we can find the following tendency for all respondents’ evaluation—higher scores of photographs without OAs. Moreover, the average point difference between photographs respondents’ evaluation of building with and without OAs mostly varied between 0.25 and 0.5 (Fig.  4 ).

figure 4

Differences between photographs respondents’ evaluation of building with and without outdoor advertisements (one point means one person and values above zero indicated a higher rating for buildings after the removal of OAs).

The detailed analyses of selected photographs with and without graphical modifications confirmed the increase in public acceptance of the building quality. Photograph A and B were found with the relevant increase in the level of public acceptance for the building and OA quality. Photograph D was found to have a very low level of values of public ratings, while after graphical modification and OAs removal an increase in values of public acceptance was observed. While in the case of photograph C, the removal of OAs from the building did not affect public opinion (Fig.  5 ).

figure 5

Mean value of rating by public opinion photographs with and without outdoor advertisement (plus minus standard deviation, black dots—outliers, bold black line—median, red dots—mean).

Relations between public perception and audit method

Comparison between city audit results and ratings of respondents was based on the six photographs without graphical modification. The mean values of measures 1 and 2 and the averages were analyzed in relation to the mean ratings of respondents. The mean values of certain measures were ranged between 2–5 and 2–9 points, respectively measure 1 and 2. While the mean value of respondents’ ratings ranged between 1.333 and 3.096 (Table 2 ). For these 6 photographs the correlation coefficients between mean values rating and measure 1, 2 and mean value were − 0.612, − 0.351 and − 0.495, respectively. It is crucial to remember that the attractiveness scale is the opposite in these two methods of attractiveness evaluation, which explains the negative correlations.

Principal component analysis may be able to explain over 90% of the total variability of analyzed data. Audit measures 1 and 2 revealed a positive correlation between both of them, as well as to mean value of the measure. A negative relation was noted between the mean value of respondents’ rating and all measures. Moreover, the strongest negative correlation was observed for measure 1 and the mean value of respondents’ ratings. The highest mean rating of public opinion was recorded for photographs A i F, with the simultaneous lowest measures values. These results indicated the lowest negative effect of OAs and building quality. The opposite relation was recorded for photographs C and D (Fig.  6 ).

figure 6

Principal component analysis of measure 1 and 2, mean measure and mean ranting of public perception.

Improving city perception is one of the most important aims of urban managers. It is one of the key factors affecting the well-being and quality of life of residents, but also potential tourists 35 . Gniezno is a city with a strong historical value, including buildings, especially in the city center. Therefore, it is essential that the perception of the city will not be distorted by visual pollution, which can lead to negative consequences, such as loss of identity 19 .

The city audit of Warszawska Street revealed that the most important in the general perception of the building is the quality of the facade and area in the front of the building. Building facades are a fundamental element of the urban landscape, which is affected by many factors, such as color, shape, texture, and material 6 . The visual qualities offered along the street are also very important for pedestrians—the number of doors, windows, columns, storefronts, display details, signage, and decorations are significant for their perception 36 . In addition, their perception also depends on external factors—weather and lighting conditions 6 . According to Yilmaz and Sagsöz 19 , all these elements, combined with a monotonous and dense structure with a disproportionate number of floors, themselves create visual pollution, which was also confirmed by our research. Moreover, the negative perception is further intensified by other elements, including signage on buildings or large billboards 19 .

To receive the precise relation between OAs and human city landscape perception, as well as to building quality, the questionnaire with photographs of selected buildings was conducted. Moreover, the photographs modifications were also performed, and OAs were removed from selected photographs. Hence, the comparison of results with and without OAs was possible. The statistical analysis of the results revealed a significant difference with and without OAs with a positive perception of the latter one, which is consistent with previous studies. According to a study conducted by Wakil et al. 25 , outdoor advertisements and signage, as well as dilapidated buildings, are considered the biggest contributors to visual pollution. Similar results were obtained by Nami et al. 37 , as the majority of respondents indicated that visual pollution affects the beauty, attractiveness, vitality and vibrancy of urban spaces. However, it is worth noting that in our study, most of the OAs were located near historic townhouses, which may have increased negative public attitudes. As Boştină-Bratu et al. 38 research showed, the public's evaluation of OAs depends on a number of factors, including the type of OAs, location, colors, or even the message of the OAs. For example, billboards used to cover a construction or renovation site in the city are much more acceptable compared to OAs placed on or near churches, as well as in the old market and the city center 38 , 39 . Some differences in opinion were also found between the respondents, such as women and men, as well as different age groups. Similar results were observed in a study of the color content and cumulative area of outdoor advertising billboards on the visual quality of urban streets. Adam et al., 40 observed gender differences only for selected images in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)—men showed greater acceptance of OAs. In addition, the responses of people over 26 years old differed from younger respondents, suggesting that older adults were more sensitive than younger adults. Also, Nawrocki 39 showed that older people in Rybnik (Poland) have lower acceptability of outdoor advertising. In addition, a survey of residents in Rybnik on perceptions of advertising showed that those with a higher education felt that outdoor advertising did not contribute to the city's beautification and was less likely to approve of it 39 . However, we have also noticed that the poor quality facade of the building significantly influenced the building perception, and the location of OA did not influence the perception of these buildings. The obtained results are indirectly supported by the research of Nami et al. 37 , as this study showed that for respondents in public spaces, restoration and beautification of historical buildings and monuments and proper shaping of space elements, are more important than OAs.

Most urban landscape assessments are based on a single level of analysis using a single methodology. To assess the quality of an urban landscape, a selection of methodologies has to be combined in order to generate a reasonable result 41 . Our investigations proved that the city audit is comparable to human perception as well as the quality of the building is crucial to the overall evaluation of the building's appearance and general city landscape. Moreover, we can also conclude that sophisticated OA might not visually pollute the urban landscape.

Although the research conducted has provided new results some potential limitations should be noted. The limitation of the current research was related to the number of photographs presented in the questionnaire. The number of photographs also limited the possible number of combinations of building type and condition and type of OAs. However, in our research due to simplify and shorten the survey, the number of photographs has to be reduced to achieve a representative number of questionnaires. Another limitation of our research is our case study focused on certain type of buildings (historical). Hence, the results of similar investigations for modern buildings might be different. The future research should include different types of buildings characteristic of certain architectonical style.


The visual pollution of the historical center of Gniezno city has been here found due to the poor quality of the building and additional outdoor advertisement locations.

The most influencing factor on building perception was the facade and surroundings of the building.

The evaluation of the building without the outdoor advertisements was higher in comparison to those with outdoor advertisements. However, in the case of buildings with poor quality facades or low architectural standards the outdoor advertisement was not significant in the total building perception.

The city audit method was quite similar to the public opinion received during the questionnaire; hence we can assume that these two methods might be used interchangeably.

Materials and methods

Gniezno is a city located in the in west-central Poland, in the eastern part of Wielkopolskie Region. The city covers an area of 41 km 2 and is inhabited by almost 65,000 people 42 . The spatial character of the city has been formed by several factors, but the most important ones are the Gniezno cathedral (the most important component and spatial dominant), the historic midtown with its compositional (view) axes and railway lines.

Warszawska Street, one of the oldest streets in Gniezno, was selected as the research area. The street can be divided into two separate sections with different morphologies. The first of them measures 490 m with an average width of approx. 8.3 m. It is mainly of a service character, because commercial and service premises are located in most of the buildings on the ground floor. Flats are located on the other floors of the buildings. Most of the buildings are historic tenement houses owned by private people. This part is under the protection of the Conservator of Monuments. The second part of Warszawska Street is a section of a different character. The length of this section is 430 m, and the average width of the road is approx. 8.7 m. The dominant buildings in this section are non-functioning railway transport facilities, a park and an education building (Fig.  7 ). Only part of this section of Warszawska Street is protected by the conservator. Warszawska Street is located in an area where there is a significant deficit of housing resources and a low standard of living. Small commercial activities are mainly carried out there (Fig.  8 ).

figure 7

Location of Gniezno town and Warszawska Street (source: own study based on data from National Geodetic and Cartographic Resource).

figure 8

Characteristics and division of Warszawska Street in Gniezno (source: own study based on data from National Geodetic and Cartographic Resource).


The city audit is an assessment of the perception of the quality of urban space with the outdoor advertisements, which disrupts the functions of places. The methodology of city audit consisted of several stages that were dependent on each other (Fig.  9 ).

figure 9

Methodological scheme in the city audit procedure.

The study of the historical data and literature was made for collecting information about the history of Warszawska Street in Gniezno and about social, economic and spatial functions of the street in the past and at present. The strategic and planning documents for the city of Gniezno, as well as the historical documents from the end of the nineteenth century, were analyzed.

The spatial scope was distinguished based on historical data and literature. According to the methodology proposed by 43 , the audit area should be characterized by morphological, social and functional homogeneity. Therefore, the section of Warszawska Street from Mickiewicza Street to Gnieźnieńskich Olimpijczyków Round was excluded from the study, which differs in functional and social terms from the first section and is not morphologically related to the rest of the study area.

It was found that the majority of buildings in the studied area are under the protection of the conservator. During the field inventory each building was analyzed, and a series of photos were taken. The focus was on outdoor advertisements and therefore on various visual objects. The field inventory also included the location of the other elements of the urban infrastructure on Warszawska Street, such as: type of green areas, pedestrian roads (sidewalks), architectural elements and roadways.

The data matrix was based on the previous stages and is a special form which includes the assessed features and the assessed spatial units—buildings along Warszawska Street. The scale of the assigned points was established, ranging from 0 to 4:

0—no problem (elements degrading the analyzed space) or its importance is insignificant in the scale of the urban unit,

1—insignificant occurrence of the problem (the problem concerns less than 10% of the analyzed street),

2—occurrence of the problem (the problem concerns 10–40% of the analyzed street),

3—increasing occurrence of the problem (the problem concerns 40–80% of the analyzed street),

4—particular increase of occurrence of the problem (the problem concerns above 80% of the analyzed street).

The general research activities in the audit procedure covered the social and spatial systems, where each of which is independent and has its own unique internal connections. The scale of the degradation of space by outdoor advertisements was assessed in several categories. The categories were divided into two measures. Measure 1 is related to the quality of the building and surroundings, while measure 2 is describing the effect of outdoor advertisement on the building.

Measure 1 components:

A—quality and condition of the building facades,

B—general quality and condition of the space around the building (including the type of green areas, architectural elements and additional elements),

C—quality and standard of roads and pavements,

Measure 2 components:

D—the need to modify the commercial and service information in the form of changing the visualization:

D1—the presence of a sign that reduces the proper visual perception of the facade and place,

D2—the presence of an advertising board that reduces the proper visual perception of the facade and place,

D3—the presence of an advertising object that reduces the proper visual perception of the facade and place.

The result of the city audit is the level of the disturbance of the harmony of space determined based on outdoor advertisements placed in a given place on the building's facade along Warszawska Street. A synthetic map of urban landscape degradation is a graphic form of city audit interpretation 43 .

Additionally, a survey was carried out in order to find out about the local opinion on the perception of the space along Warszawska Street. The survey consisted of 12 photos of the building facade. The photos were taken from 8 places on the section of Warszawska Street, showing various types of facade conditions as well as the location and character of outdoor advertisements. All selected buildings had a similar architectural style. Moreover, photos of 4 buildings were significantly modified (Supplementary Table S1 ). They were presented twice: in the current state—with outdoor advertisements, and after graphical modification—with complete removal of outdoor advertisements. Original and modified photos did not follow each other in the online survey, and after evaluating one of the photos, it was also impossible to return to the previous photo. Each photo was rated by the respondents on a Likert’s scale from 1 to 5, where 1 point meant that the respondents perceived a given landscape as not very attractive and 5 points meant that the place was perceived as very attractive. Moreover, to evaluate the effect of certain groups of respondents’ data such as age, gender, education level and place of residents were also asked in the questionnaire. The questionnaire had a form of fully anonymous and has been provided within direct personal distribution—paper form (12%) and online questionnaire (88%). The results of 259 responses have been achieved.

Statistical analysis

The results of the city audit were analyzed with the Kruskal–Wallis test, as well as visual data presentation with the indication of average, medians and outliers was presented.

The analysis of questionnaire results was performed with the aid of several statistical methods. For the analysis of the reliability and compatibility of the respondent's answers the two tests were performed. Due to the nature of the research (each respondent assessed all the photos), the second model of the intra-class correlation was used. To check the reliability of each respondent the ICC2 (2.1) coefficient was determined in the random ANOVA model for dependent groups. To check the consistency and compatibility of all groups of respondents, the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was used for k = 259 people, measuring the strength of the ICC judge's reliability (2.1) and the degree to which the observers' assessments were consistent with ICC (2.259).

To investigate the tendency of the response of the effect of OA the distribution of mean differences between with and without photographs was conducted.

For the comparison of the answers related to photographs with and without OAs of certain groups the Kruskal–Wallis test was performed. Then the visual data presentation with the indication of mean, medians, standard deviation and outliers were presented.

The comparison of city audit and perception of city landscape by public opinion was performed with the aid of Pearson linear correlation coefficient and principal component analysis.

Data availability

All data included in this study are available upon request by contact with the corresponding author.

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visual pollution essay

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  • Visual Pollution and the Preservation of Aesthetic Places

visual pollution essay

Aesthetics has become a widely-used concept nowadays, from your “Instagram aesthetic” to your personal fashion aesthetic. But America’s most alluring places have aesthetics of their own—beauty that is being threatened by visual pollution . Here’s a look at the meaning of aesthetics and the ways in which visual pollution can erode it.

What Does ‘Aesthetic’ Mean?

The dictionary definition of aesthetic is “relating to the enjoyment or study of beauty, or showing great beauty.” In its noun form, it refers to a visual tone, mood, or style. As a design principle , aesthetics “includes factors such as balance, color, movement, pattern, scale, shape and visual weight.” Though often associated with graphic design, it’s also something architects consider when designing buildings, structures, and areas with visual appeal.

visual pollution essay

From a psychological standpoint, too, aesthetics has meaning. The Aesthetic Self Effect argues that “our aesthetic engagements are a central component of our identity.” Our aesthetic interests help us define and understand ourselves.

This leads to the idea of aesthetic places . Just as our aesthetics define our sense of self, the aesthetic of a place defines its uniqueness. Its visual qualities—balance, color, texture, and more—create a special sense of place. Think of the sloped streets and Victorian architecture of San Francisco , or the bright colors and Creole architecture of New Orleans. These are beloved, aesthetic places with their own visual mood.

What Is Visual Pollution?

Visual pollution refers to things that obstruct or detract from natural and man-made landscapes. Billboards , utility wires, and litter are good examples. If you’ve seen ads plastered over public places, you’ll already be familiar with some of the negative effects like eye strain, distraction, and a general decrease in overall pleasantness. However, the problems go beyond that.

visual pollution essay

In the aesthetic places we know and love, visual pollution detracts from the character of the location. It can steal away the sense of place, and in so doing, rob it of its identity. Can you imagine Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road dotted with billboards? Or the historic squares of Savannah, Georgia peppered with high rises?

This is why scenic conservation is a vital consideration as America’s places expand and grow. We must foster new development that respects the special character of places: their distinctive geographical features, cultures, climate, and natural systems. Otherwise, with no checks on visual pollution, our aesthetic places will be eroded and lost.

Here at Scenic America, we’re working to keep America’s aesthetic places beautiful and distinct. We want to see responsible growth that doesn’t sacrifice identity along the way. Read about our principles of conservation , see what we’ve accomplished in 2021, or sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on our work and how you can help . Scenic America’s mission is to preserve and enhance the visual character and scenic beauty of America. Donate today to help us protect our beautiful places and the heart of our country’s character.

Related Topics

  • Good Design

Cell Phone Towers as Visual Pollution

Influential Citations

Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy

Key Takeaway : Cell phone towers are often criticized for visual pollution, leading to controversy over their aesthetics and the Telecommunications Act's interference in land use regulation.

Cell phone towers are just the most recent target of visual pollution complaints. The term visual pollution has been used by courts, academics, and environmental groups to explain their distaste for ugly buildings, telephone towers, billboards, flags and signs, and numerous other images that have been derided as polluting the visual landscape. The idea of pollution helps explain the controversy surrounding the aesthetics of cell phone towers. Claims of visual pollution assert a desire for a particular kind of environment, one free from the polluting effects of unwanted signs, towers, and other sights. Some local governments have tried to legislate the kinds of places where towers should or should not be located, but those efforts have met with mixed success and sporadic application. The federal Telecommunications Act (TCA) intervenes in that process by insisting that local governments offer substantial evidence to justify their zoning decisions concerning cell phone towers. Local governments continue to be especially suspect to constituent complaints about the sight of cell phone towers even as the courts frequently find that such complaints fail to satisfy the TCA’s substantial evidence standard. This essay analyzes the idea of visual pollution in the context of cell phone towers. It describes the nature of, and responses to, visual pollution. It then examines the debate concerning the aesthetics of cell phone towers, which pits affected residents against cellular providers, with local governments exercising their traditional powers of land use regulation while being constrained by the TCA’s effort to promote wireless services. I then reflect on the lessons that the idea of pollution offer for controversies regarding cell phone towers, and the lessons that the cell phone tower controversies offer for understanding pollution in other contexts.


36 Causes, Effects & Solutions For Visual Pollution

“ I think the main influence has been living in New York City. Aside from all the crap around 9/11, I find it very demanding to think amid all the noise and visual pollution.”

George Murray, Poet

Visual Pollution: Causes, Effects & Solutions

causes, effects and solutions for visual pollution and environmental stress

Visual pollution can be defined as the impairment of the view of an individual due to environmental and man-made factors.

Visual pollution can come in many forms, most of which are caused by human actions.

It can have significant negative effects on the well-being as well as on the health of people.

In this article, the causes, effects and solutions for visual pollution are examined.

Audio Lesson

Causes for visual pollution, plastic pollution, advertising, traffic signs, light pollution, excessive waste production, excessive consumption, natural causes.

Landfills can be a significant source of visual pollution.

In many countries, especially in poor developing countries, waste management systems are not sophisticated enough yet to deal with all the waste appropriately.

Making things worse, many developed countries ship their waste to these developing countries in order to get rid of it.

Thus, some countries are literally drowning in waste, which leads to excessive amounts of landfills and the resulting visual pollution.

Another big cause of visual pollution is littering .

In many cities, it is quite common that people just throw their used cigarettes on the ground right where they stand, without caring about the resulting pollution at all.

This is not only true for cigarettes but also for many other garbage items.

Through this behavior, the level of visual pollution may increase dramatically.

Smog can also be a great contributor to visual pollution.

Especially in rush-hour, excessive amounts of harmful gases are emitted into the atmosphere.

This can lead to significant smog.

Some big cities are suffering from excessive smog levels almost every day due to emissions from cars and other vehicles, which can in turn lead to significant visual pollution.

The emission of fumes from industrial processes can also contribute to air pollution and in turn to visual contamination.

Depending on the country, the emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere may not be regulated too strictly.

Thus, in countries with low levels of regulation, companies are tempted to maximize their profits by emitting excessive levels of fumes into the air, which often results in significant visual pollution.

In our nowadays society, most of our food and other material goods which can be bought in our stores are usually covered with plastic packaging.

Moreover, many people use disposable plastic cups every day, which also leads to significant levels of plastic waste. There are also several other causes of plastic waste.

This plastic waste has to be either burned or disposed into landfills in order to get rid of it.

However, in some countries, part of this plastic waste will be illegally disposed into rivers, lakes or oceans, which can lead to significant visual pollution in the form of contaminated beaches or nature reserves.

Some buildings do not fit into the natural surroundings of a city.

This may upset some people since the appearance of their city a lot, which is now negatively affected by these buildings.

Moreover, some buildings will also decay if they are not taken care of properly.

These decaying buildings may also lead to visual distraction, since they usually do not have a nice visual appearance.

In some cities, houses are still connected with wires and cable in order to provide phone lines or other basic devices.

Although these cables have been useful in the past, they are often not useful anymore since almost everyone has a smartphone now.

Moreover, these cables may lead to significant visual pollution, since it is usually no pretty picture if you have excessive cables in every house.

Antennas are crucial to provide good reception for television or other devices.

However, big antennas may also lead to visual pollution, especially for people who are living near these antennas or even have a balcony with the view on an antenna nearby.

Some means of advertising can also have negative effects on the appearance of a region.

For instance, if there are excessive numbers of billboards near the streets, this may lower the visual attractiveness of a city.

Moreover, some areas are also covered with many banners or other ads that may also lead to significant visual pollution.

Another cause of visual pollution can be vandalism.

Especially areas that are highly affected by vandalism activities suffer from an extreme decline in physical appearance.

Vandalism can come in many different forms, including the intentional destruction of newspaper dispensers or graffiti paints on buildings or trains.

Excessive amounts of traffic signs and light may also lead to visual pollution.

Although these devices are often necessary to ensure safety on our streets, it may not be a nice picture if there are too many signs and traffic lights in a small area.

Light pollution can come in various forms and may also cause significant visual contamination.

For instance, if you live nearby a main street, chances are that you are negatively affected, especially at nighttime, since your sleep may be interrupted by car lights shining through your windows.

Moreover, especially in big cities with excessive lighting, since the city will never get entirely dark, this can also lead to a feeling of artificiality.

Especially areas that are nearby airports may suffer from significant levels of visual pollution caused by planes.

If every few minutes, a plane starts or land not far away from your house, chances are that you will feel distracted.

Apart from the loud noise of airplanes, you may also suffer from visual pollution.

In our nowadays society, especially in the Western world, we produce large amounts of waste since our daily life items are often covered into plastic or other packaging material.

This leads to excessive amounts of waste which we have to deal with somehow.

Part of this waste is burned, which in turn leads to the emission of harmful gases into our atmosphere and in turn results in visual pollution.

Moreover, part of this waste will eventually end up in our oceans, which may further exacerbate the issue of visual pollution.

Our excessive consumption levels are another big cause of the decline in visual appearance of many regions.

In our current society, everyone wants to have the hippest clothes and the newest version of a smartphone, even if the old versions are still working.

This implies that people often dispose of their items into the garbage after just a few or even just a single use of these items.

This in turn leads to excessive garbage, which may cause significant visual pollution of many sorts.

Apart from man-made issues related to visual pollution, there are also some natural causes for visual contamination.

For instance, the eruption of a volcano may lead to air pollution, which may translate into visual issues.

Moreover, a tsunami may destroy many buildings, which can also lead to significant visual pollution.

visual pollution essay

Effects of Visual Pollution

Lower quality of life, mental issues, physical health issues, decrease in property prices, eye fatigue, loss of original character of a region, distraction, neglect of highly visually polluted areas, effects on flora and fauna.

Visual pollution can lead to a loss in the quality of life.

This is especially true when the negative effects of visual pollution are quite high.

For instance, if you live near a landfill, chances are that you will not be able to enjoy your life too much since you will always look at a garbage dump and may also suffer from the smell.

Moreover, if you are living in an area where there is plenty of littering and the streets are covered with garbage, chances are that your quality of life will also suffer due to that.

Visual distractions may also lead to mental issues .

For example, if you live near a main road, your sleeping quality may suffer since you may wake up due to car lights shining into your home.

This can in turn lead to serious mental issues, since sleep is quite important for our health and a lack of sleep may lead to a variety of mental health issues.

Visual pollution may also cause physical health issues.

This can be due to a lack of sleep due to distractions from excessive light pollution.

A lack of sleep increases the probability of stress which may in turn lead to serious issues like heart attacks.

Areas that suffer from high levels of visual pollution may also experience a drop in property prices.

Property prices are directly linked to the quality of life in a specific area.

If this quality is decreased due to excessive visual pollution, chances are that investors and also private persons refrain from buying homes in this area, which may lead to lower demand for property and thus to a decrease in prices.

Visual pollution can also cause eye fatigue.

Depending on the level of pollution, our eyes can be hurt quite a lot from visual distractions, which may in turn lead to serious eye issues and may prevent you from work or other things that you have to accomplish in your daily life.

Areas that have previously been quite untouched and now experience the construction of landfills may lose their original charm.

Over time, areas that have previously been characterized by nature have turned into big cities and lost all of its former character due to that.

Visual pollution may lead to distractions and also to information overload.

Especially in areas which have a high density of physical commercials like billboards, people may be easily distracted and may also suffer from information overload since their brain will not be able to process all the information in a healthy manner, which may in turn lead to mental issues like burnout .

The distraction related to visual pollution may also lead to accidents.

This is especially true when it comes to driving cars.

If you are distracted when you drive a car, chances increase that you get involved in a car accident since your attention may not be focused solely on driving but on other things around you.

Some areas may suffer from such a high level of visual pollution that the local municipality may have already given up to change things.

This may be the case when it comes to enterprise zones and related regions.

In these areas, there is just not much to do against light pollution since industries simply have to carry out their processes which may result in visual pollution of many sorts.

Visual pollution may have severe adverse effects on the local flora and fauna .

Since animals and plants are usually quite sensitive regarding their natural living conditions, a change in these conditions may lead to a decline in population for many species since they may not be able to adapt to excessive light pollution properly and may lose some of their ability to reproduce.

visual pollution essay

Prevention & Solutions for Visual Pollution

Avoid the excessive use of physical advertising, avoid waste production, lower consumption levels, reduce the use of cars, use public transport or bicycle, signs against littering, convince family and friends, only build buildings that fit into the surroundings, higher fines and better control mechanisms regarding vandalism.

In order to mitigate the issue of visual pollution, municipalities should make sure that they only allow for a certain level of physical advertisement like billboards.

By doing so, the number of billboards and other means of physical advertising can be lowered and thus also the level of visual distraction is likely to decrease.

Everyone of us should try to reduce waste production whenever possible.

This could come in the form that we should try to buy things that are not packaged into excessive amounts of plastic wrapping.

Moreover, we should try to consume our food more efficiently.

Plenty of food is dumped into the garbage can every day since people often buy too much food and will not be able to consume all of it.

By lowering our waste production, we can also indirectly lower visual pollution since lower amounts of waste have to be burned which may lead to better air quality and less smog.

It is also crucial that we change our consumption behavior.

Over the last decades, our consumption level skyrocketed since we in our Western world are able to afford plenty of stuff now.

However, this often leads to excessive consumption since people always want to have the newest things and throw their old things into the garbage can, even if these old items would still work.

Lowering our consumption levels would mitigate the issue of visual pollution since we would produce less waste which in turn would lower the adverse effects of waste like smog production.

Since our cars are a big source of visual pollution like smog, we should try to avoid the use of cars whenever possible.

You should try to work at home more often instead of commuting to work so you can reduce the emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere.

Moreover, you should also walk short distances more often instead of using your car.

For medium distances, using public transport or bicycles instead of your car may further mitigate the issue of visual pollution.

Especially if you live quite near to your work, using your bicycle should not be a big deal.

Additionally, if your city has a good public transport system, you can also switch from car to public transport and improve your ecological footprint and therefore also reduce visual distractions.

Since littering can lead to significant visual pollution, municipalities should install signs against littering to make people aware of the adverse effects of littering.

By doing so, people may be more willing to change their behavior which may in turn translate into less pollution.

Education is key when it comes to fighting visual pollution.

We have to show people the adverse effects and how we can mitigate the issue in our daily life.

This education should start quite early in school since children are usually more eager to learn things compared to adults.

Moreover, these children may also convince their parents that it is important to mitigate visual pollution.

These parents may therefore also be more willing to change their behavior in an environmentally-friendly manner, which may further reduce the problem.

You should also try to convince your family and friends to change their behavior in a more ecologically-friendly way.

Whenever you see people in your circle of family or friends litter or do other things that lead to visual pollution, you should feel obliged to inform them about the adverse effects on our environmental system.

By doing so, you can multiply your positive effect regarding the mitigation of visual pollution.

Municipalities should also make sure that they only approve the building of homes or offices that fit in the townscape of the city.

By doing so, it can be assured that the townscape remains attractive and there will be no visual issues regarding new buildings.

Since vandalism can lead to significant visual pollution, governments and other authorities should make sure that there are high fines for vandalism in place.

Moreover, there should also be sufficient control to reduce the incentive for vandalism, which may in turn result in less visual pollution issues.

Visual pollution can be a serious issue in many regions worldwide.

Although the problem is often belittled, visual pollution can have serious adverse health effects on the local population and may also hurt a variety of animals and plants.

There are plenty of measures that everyone of us can take in our daily life to mitigate the issue.

By doing so, we can all contribute to a reduction in visual pollution and therefore to an increase in the quality of life of many people.

visual pollution essay

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My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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Visual Pollution (Essay Sample)

Visual pollution is an aesthetic matter and refers to the effect of pollution that hinders one’s ability to appreciate a view. Visual pollution disrupts the display areas of people developing negative changes in the natural surroundings. Buildings, electric wires, antennas, billboards, trash, and automobiles are generally viewed as visual pollution. A multitude of people on an area provokes visual pollution. Visual pollution is thus defined as the entire uneven formations which generally develop in built and natural surroundings. The impact of visual pollutions include: eye tiredness, distraction, reduction in outlook diversity, and loss of uniqueness. This essay seeks to describe visual pollution, its effects on the environment, and control solutions.

Resident managers of urban places sometimes do not have control over what is created and assembled in common places. As trading and markets look for ways to make more profit, architecture, cleanliness, reason, and utilization of room in urban areas are deteriorating from display mess. Contrasts in the building surroundings are influenced by the setting of the street furniture such as the garbage cans, mass transport stations, huge panels, and kiosks. Inconsideration of local authorities is another root of visual pollution. For instance, faulty planned structures and transportation network produce visual pollution. Increases in tall buildings bring disadvantageous change to the display and physical features of a city which decrease the readability of the city and exterminate the natural surroundings.

Many factors cause visual pollution. Numerous disapproval of advertising is that there is too much of it everywhere. For instance, billboards can be seen every now and then and have been supposed to diverting drivers, perverting public partiality, advocating consumerism, and mess the land. Another cause of visual pollution is vandalism in the guise of graffiti. This kind of vandalism involves street markings which sometimes are offensive and have bad messages and are made without permission from the owner. Graffiti contributes to visual pollution as it distracts the display. Another cause of visual clutter is cloud due to air pollution and dust and these can be brought by empty lands and deforestation. Chimneys of factories can disrupt view due to emitting smoke.  Garbage pile and landfill also cause visual pollution by disrupting the view.

In many countries there are many strategies systematically happening to reduce or prevent visual pollution. These strategies involve limiting of signboards and bill boards on major highways and federal backing roads. Another strategy is widening public knowledge of visual pollution topography aspect and this is achieved through educational programs. These programs educate young people to boost visual surrounding in the community. Another way to prevent visual mess is planning and designing buildings according to construction protocols. Factories should be situated away from public areas to prevent spewing smoke from disrupting view. Heavy penalties should be imposed on graffiti artist to stop vandalism of such. Forestation is another preventive measure that prevents air pollution and dust from empty lands.

In conclusion visual pollution is an aesthetic matter and refers to the effect of pollution that hinders one’s ability to appreciate a view. It disrupts the display areas of people developing negative changes in the natural surroundings. The impact of visual pollutions include: eye tiredness, distraction, reduction in outlook diversity, and loss of uniqueness. There are many factors that bring about visual pollution. These factors include: smoke from factory chimneys, billboards, electric wires and telecommunication poles, graffiti, garbage stacks, and deforestation. There are also many preventive measures against visual pollution that are described in the body text.

visual pollution essay

Light Pollution

People all over the world are living under the nighttime glow of artificial light, and it is causing big problems for humans, wildlife, and the environment. There is a global movement to reduce light pollution, and everyone can help.

Conservation, Earth Science, Astronomy

Hong Kong Light Pollution

Boats, buildings, street lights, and even fireworks contribute to the light pollution in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong. Light pollution can be detrimental to the health of people and animals in the area.

Photograph by Jodi Cobb

Boats, buildings, street lights, and even fireworks contribute to the light pollution in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong. Light pollution can be detrimental to the health of people and animals in the area.

Most environmental pollution on Earth comes from humans and their inventions. Take, for example, the automobile or that miraculous human-made material, plastic . Today, automobile emissions are a major source of air pollution contributing to climate change, and plastics fill our ocean, creating a significant health hazard to marine animals.

And what about the electric lightbulb, thought to be one of the greatest human inventions of all time? Electric light can be a beautiful thing, guiding us home when the sun goes down, keeping us safe and making our homes cozy and bright. However, like carbon dioxide emissions and plastic , too much of a good thing has started to negatively impact the environment. Light pollution , the excessive or inappropriate use of outdoor artificial light, is affecting human health, wildlife behavior, and our ability to observe stars and other celestial objects.

That Earthly Sky Glow

Light pollution is a global issue. This became glaringly obvious when the World Atlas of Night Sky Brightness , a computer-generated map based on thousands of satellite photos, was published in 2016. Available online for viewing, the atlas shows how and where our globe is lit up at night. Vast areas of North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia are glowing with light, while only the most remote regions on Earth (Siberia, the Sahara, and the Amazon) are in total darkness. Some of the most light-polluted countries in the world are Singapore, Qatar, and Kuwait.

Sky glow is the brightening of the night sky, mostly over urban areas, due to the electric lights of cars, streetlamps, offices, factories, outdoor advertising, and buildings, turning night into day for people who work and play long after sunset.

People living in cities with high levels of sky glow have a hard time seeing more than a handful of stars at night. Astronomers are particularly concerned with sky glow pollution as it reduces their ability to view celestial objects.

More than 80 percent of the world’s population, and 99 percent of Americans and Europeans, live under sky glow. It sounds pretty, but sky glow caused by anthropogenic activities is one of the most pervasive forms of light pollution .

Is it Time to Get Up?

Artificial light can wreak havoc on natural body rhythms in both humans and animals. Nocturnal light interrupts sleep and confuses the circadian rhythm—the internal, twenty-four-hour clock that guides day and night activities and affects physiological processes in nearly all living organisms. One of these processes is the production of the hormone melatonin , which is released when it is dark and is inhibited when there is light present. An increased amount of light at night lowers melatonin production, which results in sleep deprivation, fatigue, headaches, stress, anxiety, and other health problems. Recent studies also show a connection between reduced melatonin levels and cancer. In fact, new scientific discoveries about the health effects of artificial light have convinced the American Medical Association (AMA) to support efforts to control light pollution and conduct research on the potential risks of exposure to light at night. Blue light, in particular, has been shown to reduce levels of melatonin in humans. Blue light is found in cell phones and other computer devices, as well as in light-emitting diodes (LEDs), the kinds of bulbs that have become popular at home and in industrial and city lighting due to their low cost and energy efficiency.

Animals are Lost and Confused, Too

Studies show that light pollution is also impacting animal behaviors, such as migration patterns , wake-sleep habits, and habitat formation. Because of light pollution , sea turtles and birds guided by moonlight during migration get confused, lose their way, and often die. Large numbers of insects, a primary food source for birds and other animals, are drawn to artificial lights and are instantly killed upon contact with light sources. Birds are also affected by this, and many cities have adopted a “Lights Out” program to turn off building lights during bird migration.

A study of blackbirds ( Turdus merula)  in Germany found that traffic noise and artificial night lighting causes birds in the city to become active earlier than birds in natural areas—waking and singing as much as five hours sooner than their country cousins. Even animals living under the sea may be affected by underwater artificial lighting. One study looked at how marine animals responded to brightly lit panels submerged under water off the coast of Wales. Fewer filter feeding animals, such as the sea squirt and sea bristle, made their homes near the lighted panels. This could mean that the light from oil rigs, passing ships, and harbors is altering marine ecosystems .

Even in places meant to provide protected natural habitats for wildlife, light pollution is making an impact. The National Park Service (NPS) has made maintaining a dark night sky a priority. The NPS Night Skies Team has been monitoring night sky brightness in some one hundred parks, and nearly every park showed at least some light pollution.

You Shouldn’t Need Sunglasses at Night

There are three other kinds of light pollution: glare, clutter, and light trespass. Glare is excessive brightness that can cause visual discomfort (for example, when driving). Clutter is bright, confusing, and excessive groupings of light sources (for example, Times Square in New York City, New York). Light trespass is when light extends into an area where it is not wanted or needed (like a streetlight illuminating a nearby bedroom window). Most outdoor lighting is poorly positioned, sending wasted electricity up into the sky.

Bring Back the Dark Sky

There are several organizations working to reduce light pollution. One of these is the U.S.-based International Dark Sky Association (IDA), formed in 1988 to preserve the natural night sky. IDA educates the public and certifies parks and other places that have worked to reduce their light emissions. In 2017, the IDA approved the first U.S. dark sky reserve. The massive Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, which clocks in at 3,667 square kilometers (1,416 square miles), joined eleven other dark sky reserves established around the world. As of December of 2018, IDA lists thirteen dark sky reserves on their site.

Stop Wasting Energy: Things We Can All Do

More people are taking action to reduce light pollution and bring back the natural night sky. Many states have adopted legislation to control outdoor lighting, and manufacturers have designed and produced high-efficiency light sources that save energy and reduce light pollution.

Individuals are urged to use outdoor lighting only when and where it is needed, to make sure outdoor lights are properly shielded and directing light down instead of up into the sky, and to close window blinds, shades, and curtains at night to keep light inside.

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Essay on Pollution for Students and Children

500+ words essay on pollution.

Pollution is a term which even kids are aware of these days. It has become so common that almost everyone acknowledges the fact that pollution is rising continuously. The term ‘pollution’ means the manifestation of any unsolicited foreign substance in something. When we talk about pollution on earth, we refer to the contamination that is happening of the natural resources by various pollutants . All this is mainly caused by human activities which harm the environment in ways more than one. Therefore, an urgent need has arisen to tackle this issue straightaway. That is to say, pollution is damaging our earth severely and we need to realize its effects and prevent this damage. In this essay on pollution, we will see what are the effects of pollution and how to reduce it.

essay on pollution

Effects of Pollution

Pollution affects the quality of life more than one can imagine. It works in mysterious ways, sometimes which cannot be seen by the naked eye. However, it is very much present in the environment. For instance, you might not be able to see the natural gases present in the air, but they are still there. Similarly, the pollutants which are messing up the air and increasing the levels of carbon dioxide is very dangerous for humans. Increased level of carbon dioxide will lead to global warming .

Further, the water is polluted in the name of industrial development, religious practices and more will cause a shortage of drinking water. Without water, human life is not possible. Moreover, the way waste is dumped on the land eventually ends up in the soil and turns toxic. If land pollution keeps on happening at this rate, we won’t have fertile soil to grow our crops on. Therefore, serious measures must be taken to reduce pollution to the core.

Get English Important Questions here

Types of Pollution

  • Air Pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Soil Pollution

How to Reduce Pollution?

After learning the harmful effects of pollution, one must get on the task of preventing or reducing pollution as soon as possible. To reduce air pollution, people should take public transport or carpool to reduce vehicular smoke. While it may be hard, avoiding firecrackers at festivals and celebrations can also cut down on air and noise pollution. Above all, we must adopt the habit of recycling. All the used plastic ends up in the oceans and land, which pollutes them.

visual pollution essay

So, remember to not dispose of them off after use, rather reuse them as long as you can. We must also encourage everyone to plant more trees which will absorb the harmful gases and make the air cleaner. When talking on a bigger level, the government must limit the usage of fertilizers to maintain the soil’s fertility. In addition, industries must be banned from dumping their waste into oceans and rivers, causing water pollution.

To sum it up, all types of pollution is hazardous and comes with grave consequences. Everyone must take a step towards change ranging from individuals to the industries. As tackling this problem calls for a joint effort, so we must join hands now. Moreover, the innocent lives of animals are being lost because of such human activities. So, all of us must take a stand and become a voice for the unheard in order to make this earth pollution-free.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

FAQs on Pollution

Q.1 What are the effects of pollution?

A.1 Pollution essentially affects the quality of human life. It degrades almost everything from the water we drink to the air we breathe. It damages the natural resources needed for a healthy life.

Q.2 How can one reduce pollution?

A.2 We must take individual steps to reduce pollution. People should decompose their waster mindfully, they should plant more trees. Further, one must always recycle what they can and make the earth greener.

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Why Some New York City Residents Are Suing Over Congestion Pricing

Their lawsuits argue that the tolling program would shift traffic and pollution to poor and minority neighborhoods and hurt small businesses.

Traffic in Manhattan, including cars, trucks and school buses.

By Winnie Hu

Kathryn Freed does not own a car, gets around by bus and subway, and supports the concept of congestion pricing. As a city councilwoman from Lower Manhattan in the 1990s, she wrote a bill that looked to the policy to ease gridlock.

But now, Ms. Freed is part of a group, New Yorkers Against Congestion Pricing Tax, that is suing to block the program, which is scheduled to start charging tolls next month to drive into Manhattan at 60th Street and below.

The program, the first of its kind in the nation, has drawn an outcry from drivers from New Jersey and the surrounding region. Now, it faces its latest legal challenge, in U.S. District Court in Lower Manhattan from city residents and New York elected officials who also oppose it and are mounting a last-ditch effort against it.

The program is intended to reduce congestion in the city’s central business district and raise billions for the mass transit system that millions of New Yorkers rely on every day.

But opponents say it would shift more traffic to the neighborhoods where they live and work as drivers gravitate to toll-free routes like the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive. As a result, they say, residents in some of the city’s most disadvantaged communities, including the Lower East Side, East Harlem and the South Bronx , could find more traffic and pollution on their doorsteps.

“We don’t want the pollution, and I don’t think we should have to have it,” said Ms. Freed, who lives on the Lower East Side and has chronic bronchitis. “Come up with a better plan.”

The lawsuit filed by New Yorkers Against Congestion Pricing Tax is scheduled to be heard this week before Judge Lewis J. Liman along with two related lawsuits against congestion pricing — one by a second group of city residents and the other by Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, and Vito J. Fossella, the Staten Island borough president.

A total of seven lawsuits have been brought against the program in federal courts in New York and New Jersey, including one by New Jersey officials that was argued before a judge in Newark in April and is likely to be decided before the tolls begin on June 30.

The lawsuits say that federal transportation officials allowed the congestion pricing program to move forward without a comprehensive environmental review or adequate mitigation of its adverse effects, especially in poor and minority communities where many residents have asthma and other health problems aggravated by air pollution.

The lawsuits also say that the program would impose a financial burden on many drivers in the boroughs and suburbs outside of Manhattan, some of whom do not have convenient access to mass transit, and that it would hurt small businesses in the congestion zone, which could lose customers and have higher costs for deliveries and services.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the program, has repeatedly cited an environmental assessment of the tolling program, and a subsequent finding by the Federal Highway Administration of no significant impact.

M.T.A. officials have also said that mitigation efforts would include prioritizing the deployment of electric buses in low-income and minority communities and other measures to improve air quality.

John J. McCarthy, the M.T.A.’s chief of policy and external affairs, said this week that the “environmental assessment will make the case that congestion relief delivers less traffic, safer streets, cleaner air and more investment in the mass transit most people use.”

He added, “That benefits all New Yorkers, visitors and the businesses where they shop, eat and spend money.”

The lawsuits have asked the federal court invalidate the Federal Highway Administration’s finding and order a more thorough study, known as an environmental impact statement.

“The federal highway authority has decided to do environmental impact statements on programs that are far less encompassing than congestion pricing,” said Alan Klinger, a lawyer for both the teachers’ union and a group of residents led by Elizabeth Chan, who lives in Battery Park City.

Under the final tolling rates approved by the M.T.A . in March, most passenger cars would pay $15 a day to enter the designated congestion zone in Manhattan from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. Trucks would pay $24 or $36, depending on their size. Those tolls would be discounted by 75 percent at night.

The program is expected to reduce the number of vehicles entering the congestion zone by about 17 percent , and raise around $1 billion annually in tolling revenue, which would be used to fund much needed infrastructure repairs and upgrades to the city’s aging subway system, buses and two commuter train lines.

The lawsuit by Mr. Mulgrew and Mr. Fossella said the “excessive” tolls would affect many public service workers who are essential to the city, including teachers, firefighters, police officers and sanitation workers, and who “would be forced to shoulder the burden of the M.T.A.’s latest fund-raising gambit.”

Mr. Mulgrew, who lives on Staten Island, said in an interview that he decided to sue when he realized the program would reduce traffic and pollution in an affluent swath of Manhattan, only to increase it in low-income and minority areas in the other boroughs.

“How come the richest people get all the benefit and the poor people get the shaft as usual?” Mr. Mulgrew said. “They get more pollution and they have to pay more out of pocket.”

M.T.A. officials said that whether workers were required to drive into the congestion zone, and whether they would be reimbursed for the tolls, was “a matter to be resolved between employees and employers.”

New Yorkers Against Congestion Pricing Tax has argued in its lawsuit that an assessment of the tolling program’s economic impact on small businesses and their workers is required under state administrative law.

Steven Traube, a co-owner of the Wall Street Grill and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said that his vendors who deliver meat, fish, vegetables and paper goods have told him they would be adding a surcharge to cover the tolls. His employees who drive to work are worried that it would take much longer to get home by subway, especially late at night. Several dishwashers have asked if the restaurant would chip in for Uber rides.

Most of his customers drive into Lower Manhattan to dine at the restaurant and some might think twice about it or spend less if they came, he said, especially since there are many restaurant choices outside the congestion zone.

“It’s making the choice a little easier,” he said. “Do I eat in Long Island? Do I stay in New Jersey? Or do I drive in and pay an extra $15?”

Winnie Hu is a Times reporter covering the people and neighborhoods of New York City. More about Winnie Hu


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  1. Visual pollution

    Visual pollution refers to the visible deterioration and negative aesthetic quality of the natural and human-made landscapes around people [1] and to the study of secondary impacts of manmade interventions. [2] It also refers to the impacts pollution has in impairing the quality of the landscape, formed from compounding sources of pollution to ...

  2. Visual pollution

    There are different causes of visual pollution. Among the most frequent we can mention: Excessive use of illuminated billboards and animations on roads. Excessive use of television advertising. Garbage agglomerated in public spaces. Constructions or distortions in natural environments that scare away the fauna of that space.

  3. (PDF) Visual pollution

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  4. Visual Pollution: An Approach to Reduce the Environmental ...

    This paper discussed the effect of light pollution as part of the visual pollution at night. Light pollution is a global issue, and its most notable effect is mainly aesthetic. In addition, it is an ecological issue, mainly in developed countries, with negative effect on both humans and nocturnal living organisms.

  5. A Hybrid Tool for Visual Pollution Assessment in Urban Environments

    With increasing focus on more nuanced aspects of quality of life, the phenomenon of urban visual pollution has been progressively gaining attention from researchers and policy makers, especially in the developed world. However, the subjectivity and complexity of assessing visual pollution in urban settings remain a challenge, especially given the lack of robust and reliable methods for ...


    visual pollution has seen only a few developments, although authors have suggested measurements, such as the degree of intrusion of transportation infrastructure in the visual field. The evaluation of the economic and social costs of visual pollution is also an under- researched field. A possible, though imperfect, method to estimate this value ...

  7. IJGI

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    VISUAL POLLUTION OF URBAN AREAS AS ONE OF THE MAIN ISSUES OF THE. 21 ST CENTURY. Mila Cvetković 1*, A. Momčilovi ć - Petronijević1, A. Ćurčić 1. 1 University of Niš, Faculty of Civil ...

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  10. Chaos in Motion: Measuring Visual Pollution with Tangential View ...

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  11. Visual Pollution and the Preservation of Aesthetic Places

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  12. Cell Phone Towers as Visual Pollution

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  13. Essay On Visual Pollution

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  16. 36 Causes, Effects & Solutions For Visual Pollution

    Physical health issues. Visual pollution may also cause physical health issues. This can be due to a lack of sleep due to distractions from excessive light pollution. A lack of sleep increases the probability of stress which may in turn lead to serious issues like heart attacks.

  17. Sci

    The environmental physiognomy of an area can significantly diminish its aesthetic appeal, rendering it susceptible to visual pollution, the unbeaten scourge of modern urbanization. In this study, we propose using a deep learning network and a robotic vision system integrated with Google Street View to identify streets and textile-based visual pollution in Dhaka, the megacity of Bangladesh.

  18. Visual Pollution, Essay Sample

    Visual pollution is thus defined as the entire uneven formations which generally develop in built and natural surroundings. The impact of visual pollutions include: eye tiredness, distraction, reduction in outlook diversity, and loss of uniqueness. This essay seeks to describe visual pollution, its effects on the environment, and control solutions.

  19. Visual Feature

    The estimated annual loss in the value of plastic packaging waste during sorting and processing alone is US$ 80- 120 billion. Cigarette butts — whose filters contain tiny plastic fibers — are the most common type of plastic waste found in the environment. Food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic bottle caps, plastic grocery bags, plastic ...

  20. Light Pollution

    Most environmental pollution on Earth comes from humans and their inventions. Take, for example, the automobile or that miraculous human-made material, plastic.Today, automobile emissions are a major source of air . pollution contributing to climate change, and plastics fill our ocean, creating a significant health hazard to marine animals.. And what about the electric lightbulb, thought to be ...

  21. Essay on Visual Pollution

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  22. Essay on Pollution in 500 Words

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  23. Mathematics

    Visual pollution (VP) is the deterioration or disruption of natural and man-made landscapes that ruins the aesthetic appeal of an area. It also refers to physical elements that limit the movability of people on public roads, such as excavation barriers, potholes, and dilapidated sidewalks. In this paper, an end-to-end visual pollution prediction (VPP) framework based on a deep active learning ...

  24. Why Some New York City Residents Are Suing Over Congestion Pricing

    The lawsuits have asked the federal court invalidate the Federal Highway Administration's finding and order a more thorough study, known as an environmental impact statement.