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February 21st, 2011:

Hong Kong air pollution claims 1,860 lives a year, experts say

21 Feb. 2011

Hong Kong – Worsening air pollution in Hong Kong is causing 1,860 extra deaths a year and costing the city 2.5 billion US dollars in health costs and lost earnings, experts said Monday.

A new study by a team of scientists from the University of Hong Kong team said the failure to clean up the city’s notorious smog was having a deadly impact on people’s health.

They estimated that air pollution was responsible for 92,745 extra hospital bed days and 5.2 million doctor visits.

The researchers from the university’s School of Public Health called on the government to comply with World Health Organization guidelines rather than its own proposed air pollution limits.

Government regulations are too lax and unlikely to provide effective environmental regulation or lead to sustained air quality improvements, the report concluded.

‘There is an urgent need for the government to adopt a scientifically valid approach to the setting of air quality regulations which will protect population health,’ lead author Lai Hak-kah said

Pollution in the densely populated city of 7 million has worsened dramatically in the past two decades and has been blamed for causing respiratory problems and forcing some foreigninvestors to move away.

Much of the city’s notorious smog blows down from factories in neighboring southern China, although some of it is caused by vehicle emissions.

HKU study rejects govt air quality plan

RTHK   21 FEB 2011

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have warned that implementing the government’s proposed objectives to improve air quality would have a negative impact. A study they carried out predicts that adopting the measures would result in higher levels of fine particulates and sulphur dioxide than at present.

Professor Anthony Hedley, who headed the study, said the government should adopt the more stringent guidelines recommended by the World Health Organisation. Otherwise, he said, poor air quality would cause more than 1,800 additional local deaths a year, and leave taxpayers with an annual bill of HK$20-billion.