SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Korea Bizwire) — Environmental experts say the government needs to do more to raise awareness of the growing level of light pollution at night, which can lead to a number of health problems such as insomnia, depression, diabetes, and obesity.
During a symposium held by the Korean Medical Association and the Korean Bar Association on Monday, both domestic and foreign experts, including professor Jamie Zeitzer from Stanford University, professor Shadab Rahman from Harvard University, and professor Lee Hun-jung from Korea University warned of the seriousness of light pollution, while calling on the government to raise public awareness.
Despite excessive light exposure having a significant impact on modern society due to urbanization and increased nighttime activities, experts believe research on the medical consequences remains insufficient.
“Though some astronomers have used the term for a long time, most people aren’t even aware of what light pollution is. Only a small number of people know that light pollution is harmful to human health,” Professor Zeitzer said.
An analysis of NASA data by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and the University of Exeter between 2012 and 2016 showed that the area of the planet exposed to artificial lighting is growing by more than 2 percent in size every year.
Zeitzer says the argument that light pollution raises the risk of cancer and causes diabetes and obesity is getting support from the academic world, as exposure to excessive light levels at night can disrupt biorhythms, weakening one’s immune system and leading to health problems.
“The biggest issue is that a growing number of people are being exposed to blue light at an inappropriate time. Though blue light is necessary to maintain biorhythms, the level of exposure needs to be reduced as much as possible at night,” said Professor Rahman, who took part in the symposium on light pollution on Monday.
Blue light, which is often emitted from LED lights used at night, can disrupt the release of melatonin, causing sleep disorders.
According to data from the Gyeonggi Provincial Government last year, nearly 4 in 10 local residents said they suffer from sleep disorders due to artificial lighting.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)