Time to tackle light, noise pollution

In 2016, Singapore was named the country with the worst level of light pollution in the world - with a pollution level of 100 per cent - in a Science Advances study.
In 2016, Singapore was named the country with the worst level of light pollution in the world - with a pollution level of 100 per cent - in a Science Advances study. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

While major cities like Beijing, Bangkok and New Delhi battle air pollution, Singapore faces a different challenge.

In 2016, Singapore was named the country with the worst level of light pollution in the world - with a pollution level of 100 per cent - in a Science Advances study.

The study, The New World Atlas Of Artificial Night Sky Brightness, said that Singapore's use of artificial light exceeds the level of light pollution tolerable per capita.

Hence, the news that street lamps in central Singapore are being converted to brighter light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is disturbing (City streets to look brighter with 25,000 LED lamps, April 21).

Switching to LED lights from the current high-pressure sodium vapour street lamps is definitely a welcome move, as the new lights are more energy-efficient, last longer and require less maintenance.

However, what is the need for brighter and more powerful lights?

Instead, if we could maintain the current luminescence at a much lower cost, that option should be explored.

Various studies have revealed that light pollution has adverse effects on people's mental health and results in more sleep disorders.

It has also caused confusion and disorientation among birds, affecting their migration and nesting habits, as many of them migrate at night and rely on celestial cues.

Apart from light pollution, the noise pollution levels in Singapore are also getting higher.

The numerous two-wheelers on the roads - mostly the lower-end 100cc to 250cc motorbikes - also often create a loud disturbance.

This noise is amplified when these motorcycles are ridden in residential blocks.

Singapore holds the top position in various other positive rankings. But we should certainly not be holding the top positions for light or noise pollution in the world.

I hope the Land Transport Authority will look into this.

Ramamurthy Mahesh Kumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2019, with the headline 'Time to tackle light, noise pollution'. Print Edition | Subscribe