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March 19th, 2008:

Replacement Of More Polluting Vehicles Urged

SCMP – 19th March 2008

Lawmakers urged the government yesterday to dig deeper into its pockets to speed up the replacement of polluting vehicles in the city. The calls came after the budget had proposed introducing registration tax concessions for new vehicles meeting the Euro V emissions standard. The scheme will provide a 30 to 100 per cent tax cut – ranging from HK$8,500 to HK$78,000 – depending on the type of vehicle. It was estimated that such a programme would cost HK$26 million a year. At the legislature’s environmental panel meeting, lawmakers from all major parties questioned whether the new scheme would be sufficiently attractive and effective.

Why is Indoor Air Quality so Important for Schools?

George Woo RHP CIEC – Principal Consultant, Green Building & IAQ

MOST people know that when the skyline looks hazy with smog and the Hong Kong Air Pollution Index is over 100, breathing the air can be harmful. But did you know the air inside your home, office or school can make you sick?

In fact, the Environmental Protection Department in all major counties have already rated indoor air pollution among the top environmental health risks because we spend 90 percent of our time indoors. Really? Yes, just add up the time you spend at home, at work or school, on public or private transportations, meals and other entertainment. Over the past 40 years, exposure to indoor air pollutants has proven to cause major impacts in our health. Carcinogenic chemical emitted from building material, microbial cross infections such as influenza, Norovirus, SARS, Avian Flu, and other respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis are affecting our family’s health daily. To make matters worse, those who are most susceptible to indoor air pollution are children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses. Children breathe in 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults do. US Environmental Agency (EPA) studies have found that pollutant levels indoor can be two to five times higher than outdoors. After some activities, indoor air pollution levels can be 100 times higher than outdoors.

There is good news and bad news about indoor air: the bad news is that indoor air often contains higher concentrations of hazardous pollutants than outdoor air; however, the good news is that everyone can reduce indoor air pollution.

Often, it is difficult to determine which pollutant or pollutants are the sources of a person’s ill health, or even if indoor air pollution is the problem. Many indoor air pollutants cannot be detected by our senses (e.g., smell) and the symptoms they produce can be vague and sometimes similar, making it hard to attribute them to a specific cause. Some symptoms may not show up until years later, making it even harder to discover the cause. Common symptoms of exposure to indoor air pollutants include: headaches, tiredness, dizziness, nausea, itchy nose, and scratchy throat. More serious effects are asthma and other breathing disorders and cancer.

Children and elderly may be more vulnerable to environmental exposures than adults. According to Health Canada, an estimated of 8% of adults and 12% of children are asthmatic. Most of the asthma cases among elementary school-age children could be prevented by controlling exposure to indoor allergens: biological (mould, house dust mite, etc.) and chemical (formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, etc.) Another major concern is influenza which can easily be cross transferred inside a school or other indoor areas.

Our children spent most of their time in school and the lack of knowledge in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and Indoor Environment (IE) is a critical concern. Being one of the major voluntary bodies in Hong Kong devoted in air quality, Clear the Air is launching an IAQ for Schools Program in Hong Kong from April 2008. This program includes assessment, education and planning for schools to effectively improve their indoor air quality and most important, maintain it at an acceptable level.

All schools are welcome to participate in this program. Please contact George Woo at as well as his mobile : 9802 9478 if you require more information.

Guangdong To Ban Vehicles With Nonstandard Emission

By Zhan Lisheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-19 07:32

Guangdong province will stop licensing vehicles that fail to meet the nation’s stage III emission standard from July 1, according to a government statement released yesterday on its website.

The province also aims to introduce the more stringent stage IV emission standard for vehicle licensing in the highly developed and more polluted Pearl River Delta region, it said.
The province’s environmental protection watchdog will soon reveal the categories of vehicles meeting the emission standards and the provincial government is already encouraging public transportation firms to meet higher emission standards ahead of schedule, it said.

China’s current III standard, equivalent to the EU III standards, cuts vehicle pollutants by 30 percent compared to the previous standards, according to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). The standard was introduced at the end of 2005 first by big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and, in turn, smaller centers.

More than 7,000 types of vehicles meet the new standard, according to ministry figures.

Meanwhile, those vehicles not yet up to the stage III emission standard will be gradually fazed out.

“The move to stop licensing vehicles not up to the stage III emission standard is part of the province’s scheme to deal with vehicle emission pollution,” Chen Guangrong, deputy director of Guangdong environmental protection bureau, said yesterday.

According to Chen, vehicle emissions have become the largest air polluter in the province, with the emission of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and inhalable particulate matter accounting for more than 50 percent of air pollutants.

“The province has more than 13 million vehicles and the number has been increasing very rapidly,” Chen said. “If nothing were done, vehicle emission would threaten the province, especially the Pearl River Delta region, which has a denser population, more vehicles, faster industrial development and poorer air quality.”

He said the province would impose different speed limits for different vehicles and restrict vehicles of lower emission standards on some roads.

And the province will modify the petrol supply in accordance with the enhancement of the vehicle emission standard while improving the mechanism for vehicle emission monitoring.

Ling Haiheng, an associate professor with South China Normal University and a potential car buyer, said he supported the government’s move.

“Though a car of stage III emission standard can be more expensive, it is worthwhile,” he said.