Cut in urban lighting urged amid cancer concerns

December 8th, 2008 - 12:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, Dec 8 (DPA) Laws curbing night-time illumination in Hong Kong have been demanded by an environmentalist group amid concerns that excessive lighting could cause cancer, a media report said Monday.The Friends of the Earth said more than 1,300 street lights on residential buildings were a cancer risk for residents, The Standard newspaper reported.

The group said the lights are too bright and shine into people’s homes.

Retired physiology professor Pang Shiu-fun said long exposure to night light disrupted humans’ biological clocks and damaged their immune systems.

Pang, who used to work at Hong Kong University, said people needed to sleep in the dark so their bodies could produce the hormone melatonin, which helps to prevent the formation of tumours and controls many of the body’s regular functions.

He said melatonin production dropped by half after 40 minutes’ exposure to light from a regular bulb, based on research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Electric Power Research Institute.

The green group also cited Israeli researchers who found causal links between breast cancer and night-time illumination by overlaying satellite imagery of the planet taken at night onto cancer registries.

Friends of the Earth director Edwin Lau said the government should accelerate the introduction of legislation curbing and regulating light pollution.

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