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August 29, 2012

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New law to tame bright lights near homes

GLOWING LED screens may add extra charm to the city's nighttime skyline but also can turn into a luminous nightmare to people living near the screens.

A local law is expected to take effect later this year to set maximum degrees of brightness allowed from such facilities to control light pollution.

The local parks and greenery bureau, one of the watchdogs in charge of outdoor lighting facilities, said yesterday a draft for the future Urban Outdoor Lighting Regulation has already been completed and was expected to pass before the end of this year.

Officials said it would regulate allowable light from outdoor lamps such as advertising boards and landscape lights, based on their functions and locations in the city.

Lighting managers should modify or remove the lights if required, and they are subject to penalties for breaking the standards, according to the draft law, city officials said.

Some residents who have complained have been told there's nothing now that can be done.

Lu Weiqian, 55, and her family found themselves with a light pollution problem more than a month ago after a new shopping mall next to their residential building lit on a huge LED screen to deliver welcome messages and attract customers.

Lu's family lives in a fifth-floor apartment on downtown Qiujiangzhi Road in Hongkou District. The woman complained her family is the most heavily disturbed since the new shopping mall built its LED board right about the same height as their apartment window across the street. Her family and neighbors have to close all their curtains early in the evening to try to get some peace.

"I always went to sleep early. But it's now difficult since the big LED screen was on from 6pm to 10pm every day. And the red-colored light is particularly dazzling," the woman said.

The family's repeated complaints to government watchdogs were futile as they were told there's currently no standard in law to determine if the shopping mall kept its LED lights illegally bright.

But the regulation being considered will set clear standards to restrict the brightness of outdoor LED facilities in Shanghai in an effort to relieve the disturbance to Lu's family and others who live near the lights.


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