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Science - What happened to our Green city?

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Location: Opposite Seletar Dam - Facing Johor

Time: 14 December - 10.00am


I love this idyllic corner in North -East Singapore. Standing at the bridge, you can almost see Malaysia. On the right, you would see old settlements and what looks like a mangrove area. On your left, you would see a forested area with a small beach.

This is one of my favourite running routes. It is so scenic it doesn't feel like Singapore. On weekends and sometimes at night, you would see bikers, cars filled with families and loving couples having a picnic here. I would bring my date here if I could.

However, the problem comes when you look down (towards the beach area). If you ever walk past this area, you will see a wide array of rubbish ranging from plastics, glass, food packing and random toys!

I have included some of the pictures below.

Figure 1: 1st trash bag collected. Mostly containing plastic items.

Figure 2: Random styrofoam bits

Figure 3: Plastic drink containers containing 'rain water'? and some reddish liquid.

Figure 4: Food and drink container/packaging.

Figure 5: Not sure what this is, a random toy?

Why this needs to stop.

1. Litter can be dangerous.

Not only is litter unsightly, it can actually be dangerous. Glass or metals that are broken can cut your skin if you are not careful. They can actually be found on pathway where people tend to sit or along the small 'beach' area where I have seen kids build sand castles.

Figure 6: Glass bottles and a couple of metal cans

2. Toxic chemicals can leak into the water

Cigarette butts are small and they can squeeze into the tiniest place between rocks. They are hard to clear. If they are found near the shore, they can easily contaminate the nearby water body. Preliminary studies show that organic compounds (such as nicotine, pesticide residues and metal) seep from cigarette butts into aquatic ecosystems. This can be toxic to fish and microorganisms.

3. The rubbish enters our food

When plastic disintegrates into small pieces under UV light, microplastics are formed. Microplastics contain carcinogens and neurotoxins that are known to interfere with hormones, cause cancer and birth defects. When these chemicals enter the food chain and accumulate in fish and shellfish that we eat, we ingest these 'rubbish' or toxins into our bodies.

4. Choke animals and affect biodiversity

Styrofoam is a famous culprit, well-known for being non-biodegrable. Instead of breaking down completely overtime, Styrofoam breaks into tiny pieces and stays in the environment for hundreds of years. Animals often mistake Styrofoam for food and ingest it. This causes harm or death due to starvation, choking or chemical buildup in the digestive system. This will naturally cause an upset in the ecosystem.

Figure 7: There are a couple of wildlife living in this area, I spotted one that day

The next time you visit Lower Seletar Dam (Opp Rower's Bay), I encourage you to bring trash bags and tongs. Make it a family activity. I promise you will learn a lot about humanity and if you have children, what better way to be a perfect example of a responsible citizen!

Last but not least, here is a surprise picture taken on the same day. What do you think the brown item is?

Figure 8: Unknown item - can you make a guess?

Can you share 2 things you have done or wish to do to help the environment?

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