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  • Aug 29, 2014
  • Updated: 6:04pm
NewsHong Kong

Resetting the body clock can affect health

Nocturnal lighting in a built environment is "clearly regarded" as a public health issue by overseas environmental and medical authorities

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 4:51am

Light pollution can affect brain function and disrupt the body clock, causing ill health.

Nocturnal lighting in a built environment was "clearly regarded" as a public health issue by overseas environmental and medical authorities, said a group of academics in a paper on the adverse health effects of the Hong Kong environment.

"Many studies show that the resetting of body clocks and the use of intense blue-white light, as opposed to yellow light, may be associated with changes in the function of the brain, heart and endocrine glands," said the academics from the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health, in the paper. It may also be linked to "sleep deprivation, depression, heart disease, and cancer in occupational groups working night shifts", they said.

"We are not suggesting that all Hong Kong residents are susceptible to these bad outcomes, but we should be fully aware that this area of human biology is under review because such exposure may have long-term consequences which are avoidable.

"Disruption of body clocks affects the normal physiology of all species. In humans it can affect 10 to 15 per cent of our genes so there is a considerable potential for this to cause adverse health effects," they said.

The paper also noted that pollution increases the intensity and distribution of glare in cities.



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