Guangzhou studying light pollution fees

Updated: 2010-04-22 07:20
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Neon signs and billboards may soon be restricted

GUANGZHOU - The provincial capital of South China's Guangdong province is expected to take the lead in collecting light pollution fees in the country.

Sources with the Guangzhou municipal price bureau said they are studying the feasibility of collecting light pollution fees and are working to prepare the first phase of such a program.

But the city's officials would not reveal details on how and when the light pollution fees will be charged.

"We will make it public once it has been decided," said an official who declined to be identified.

Officials from the Guangzhou bureau of environmental protection also refused to comment on the issue, saying the bureau now collects fees for only four kinds of pollution: waste gas, sewage, solid trash and noise, according to the relevant laws and regulations.

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The plan to charge light pollution fees is coming as a result of the light pollution becoming worse in the southern metropolis, dubbed "a city without night".

Medical research has proven that excessive light surrounding the human body causes a variety of adverse health effects, including increased headaches, stress, and anxiety, as well as a decrease in sexual function. The incidence of eye disease is also higher in urban residents than in country residents due to light pollution.

The normal light intensity of illumination is about 15 lumens. The light illuminance in the city's busy Beijing Road, however, reaches more than 1,000 lumens, 60 times more than the standard level, said Li Mingguang, a doctor from Guangzhou Scientific Research Institute of Environmental Protection.

"Other business districts, streets, bars and public entertainment venues also have been reported to cause serious light pollution in the city," Li said.

In addition to road lamps, the sources of light pollution come from the city's large number of neon lights and advertisement boards. The glass walls of skyscrapers further reflect strong lights into nearby residential houses.

However, Li said relevant departments will have difficulty in collecting light pollution fees because they lack regulations and standards to define light pollution.

He urged the relevant departments to quickly introduce these regulations and standards.

Li Jianji, a member of Guangdong Society of Astronomy, is in favor of limiting the time for switching on the city's neon lights and lights on advertisement boards to reduce light pollution.

"All the city's neon lights and advertisement lights should be switched off at 10 or 10:30 pm every day," Li said.

Some of the neon lights should be allowed only on weekends or public holidays, he added.

Currently most of the city's neon lights, advertisement lights and decorative lights remain on overnight seven days a week.

Cheng Chenghua, a white-collar worker, said light pollution has become a more serious problem in Guangzhou compared with a few years ago.

"Collecting light pollution fees should be an effective way to help battle the light pollution," Cheng told China Daily.

Light pollution is particularly bad on both banks of the Pearl River in the downtown area, where there are many neon lights, billboards and decorative lights, Cheng said.


(China Daily 04/22/2010 page7)