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April 2nd, 2008:

BASF Technology Provides Hong Kong With Cleaner Air

BASF is supplying diesel particulate filters for over 2,500 Hong Kong transit buses, marking the first large-scale commercial use of diesel particulate filters in the city as part of a diesel retrofit program. It also demonstrates BASF Catalysts’ continued efforts to promote a cleaner environment in Hong Kong with its more than 7 million inhabitants.
Beginning in spring 2008, BASF’s DPX™ Max filters will be installed on vehicles from Hong Kong’s four major transit bus operators – The Kowloon Motor Bus (1933) Co. Ltd. (KMB), Citybus Ltd. (CTB), New World First Bus Services Ltd. (NWST) and New Lantao Bus Co. (1973) Ltd. (NLB). BASF’s DPX technology has been proven on tens of thousands of trucks and buses, and earned the first U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Urban Bus Retrofit certificate.

Frank Ardite, Commercial Director, BASF Catalysts, said, “We have worked closely with the Environmental Protection Department and the transit bus operators since 2000 when the Hong Kong retrofit program began. We are excited to be chosen to bring the next level of diesel emissions control to Hong Kong.”

Kane Shum, Principal Engineer for KMB, and Paul Li, Head of Operations and Engineering for CTB and NWST, said that they conducted extensive field trials to find the right solution for Hong Kong before choosing BASF’s DPX Max filters, which can cut emissions of particulate matter, or soot, by more than 85%.

Diesel vehicles are the main cause of street-level air pollution in Hong Kong. As the number of vehicles and miles driven increase in Hong Kong’s urban areas, the city’s air quality problem has increased. The Hong Kong government has instituted a number of initiatives to combat the problem, including a diesel retrofit program aimed at reducing emissions from existing buses, trucks and vans.

In 2003, BASF Catalysts technology was selected for use in one of the world’s largest diesel engine retrofit programs. As a result, today over 35,000 Hong Kong buses and trucks feature BASF Catalysts’ diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), which significantly reduce carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions.

Installation of the DPX Max filters is quick and easy. BASF Catalyst’s distributor in Hong Kong, Consolidated Parts and Accessories Sales Centre Ltd. (a member of Dah Chong Hong Holdings Ltd.), will supply the filters for the buses and provide maintenance services.

Posted April 2nd, 2008 –

IOC Warning On Beijing Health Risks

Reuters in Beijing – Updated on Apr 02, 2008

Endurance events at the Beijing Olympics could pose a health risk if they are staged on heavily polluted days, the International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday, although it was prepared to reschedule such events.

Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC coordination commission, said there was a small chance of athletes suffering some damage to their health if they took part in events lasting longer than an hour, such as the marathon and cycling road races.

Beijing is one of the most polluted cities in the world and, despite a 120 billion yuan (US$17.12 billion) clean-up over the last decade, air quality remains a concern for many athletes coming to the Olympics, already a lightning rod for rights protests worldwide.

“There can be a risk, but it’s not big, for endurance events that last longer than an hour,” the Dutchman said on the sidelines of the final inspection of preparations for the August 8-24 Games.

“In that case, we are developing a Plan B. We might delay certain events for a couple of days. But to do that it must be very bad.”

Organisers could face a dilemma if on the final day of competition pollution levels are too high to stage the men’s marathon. For events that take less than an hour to complete, Verbruggen said, there was no chance of any damage to the health of an athlete.

“The Chinese together with our medical commission have done an excellent job,” he added. “They have scientifically proved there is no risk for the wide majority of sports.”

IOC press commission chief Kevan Gosper said Beijing’s investment had already delivered better air quality and he was confident that contingency plans would be effective.

“At Games’ time, they’ve got many levers to pull … they’ve given us a great list of details of what they propose to do,” he said. “Every Games I’ve been to as an administrator since 1984, we’ve worried about air quality … in all cases, things turned out to be normal,” he added.

Beijing plans to take about half of its 3.5 million cars off the roads and partially shut down industry in the capital and five surrounding provinces for two months for the Olympics and following Paralympics.

City authorities have trumpeted the rise in the number of ”blue sky days” – from 100 in 1998 to 246 last year – as evidence of the improvements already made.

But some athletes have not been reassured. Marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie, an asthma sufferer, said last month he would not compete in the event in August because of the pollution.

The “blue sky day” scale has not been widely recognised by international scientists and some foreign media have accused local officials of fiddling with measures to get the desired results.

“There’ll always be critics, but it’s out there for people to see and for those of us who’ve been coming here for 30 years, there’s tangible evidence of dramatic improvement,” said Gosper. “I believe they’ve done a great deal on air quality and I don’t believe it will be an issue at Games time.”

Schools’ Air Quality To Be Checked

Will Clem – Updated on Apr 02, 2008 – SCMP

A green group has launched a campaign to monitor the air quality in schools across the city.

Clear the Air Hong Kong, an environmental pressure group, is offering schools a free assessment of pollution levels in classrooms and expert advice on how to minimise the impact on health.

The project, which the group hopes will gain the support of all primary and secondary schools, will be unveiled today but is expected to take several months to complete.

“The first phase will run until the end of June and then we plan to start up again in September,” chairman Christian Masset said. We want to include as many schools as possible.”

Mr Masset said people tended to underestimate the effect indoor air quality had on health. “We seldom think about pollution indoors,” he said. “But it has been proven that it can be responsible for various kinds of problems. Young people are most likely to be affected.”

Mr Masset said there were steps schools could take to reduce the amount of pollution getting into the classroom and this had been shown to improve students’ health.

“Educators notice that students demonstrate better performance in class and they are sick less often,” he said.

An investigation by the Sunday Morning Post last October found pollution levels were almost as high indoors as they were outdoors at three out of the four schools tested.

Indoor levels of respirable suspended particulates ranged between 76 per cent and 98 per cent of the levels in the playground at the three worst-affected schools.

Safe Disposal Of Used Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

SCMP – 2nd April 2008

I write in response to the letter by Sharon Li (Talkback, March 28), about the safe disposal of used energy-saving light bulbs.

The government encourages the wider use of fluorescent lamps since they are more energy-efficient and have a longer service life than incandescent light bulbs. However, they contain a small quantity of mercury and broken lamps should be properly handled.

To provide an environmentally sound outlet for the disposal of used fluorescent lamps, 15 suppliers of fluorescent lamps have joined hands to organise and fund a territory-wide recycling programme with the support of the Environmental Protection Department. Starting from tomorrow, 53 public collection points will be provided at the retail outlets of participating companies, designated shopping malls and houseware stores.

In addition, more than 480 housing estates have signed up for the recycling programme, and starting from April 14, collection bins will be provided at these participating housing estates for residents to deposit their used lamps. The collected lamps will then be delivered to a mercury lamp treatment facility set up at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre. More details on the recycling programme can be found at

We thank Ms Li for her interest in the safe disposal of energy-saving light bulbs, and we encourage the public to participate in the fluorescent lamp recycling programme.

Children’s Health ‘At Risk’ From Poor Indoor Air

2008-04-02 HKT 14:00 – RTHK

A green group, Clear The Air, is warning that poor indoor air quality is putting the health of Hong Kong children at risk. A spokesman for the group, George Woo, said people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, where studies had shown pollutant levels could be up to five times higher than outside. Mr Woo said that local schools lacked the knowledge to improve indoor air quality.

George Woo