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April 29th, 2015:

Pollution among the factors causing more allergies among children – and figures are set to rise

Three-quarters of parents with at least one child under the age of three report that the child has allergies, a study shows – and researchers warn the figure will grow.

Some 58 per cent of the youngsters had eczema or a skin allergy, 32 per cent had rhinitis or hay fever and 25 per cent airway allergies such as asthma. Some of the children suffered more than one type of allergy.

The findings of the survey by the Allergy Association, commissioned by the University of Hong Kong, were based on interviews with 511 parents.

Only 30 per cent of the children were believed to have inherited the condition from their parents – meaning the rest might be down to factors such as pollution, exposure to second-hand smoke, caesarean delivery or not being breastfed exclusively in their first six months.

“We have seen many more allergy cases in this generation than the last,” said Dr Marco Ho Hok-kung, chairman of the association.

“I believe the number is only going to rise in the future, in keeping with the global trend. It is vital to understand the risk of allergies and take preventive measures.”

Allergies could affect the long-term growth of infants, said Ho. Some research suggests that infants who develop an allergy before the age of two have a 24 per cent increased risk of developing emotional problems later in life.

Families with children suffering from allergies often have to devote a lot of effort to preventing exposure to allergens such as peanuts, milk or seafood in meals and dust mites at home.

According to the World Health Organisation, 40 to 50 per cent of children across the globe are bothered by one or more types of allergy.

Ho said if either parent had an allergy, there was a 30 per cent chance of their child inheriting it. This increased to 50 per cent if both parents were sufferers. And in general, every child has 5 to 15 per cent chance of developing an allergy even if neither parent has the condition.

Paediatrician Dr Alfred Tam Yat-cheung said risks could be attributed to environmental factors such as pollution and exposure to second-hand smoke. They could be reduced by giving birth naturally and feeding the babies only breast milk in their first six months, he said.

Source URL (modified on Apr 29th 2015, 2:55am):

Numbers don’t add up in runway plan

Thomas Chu Ka Wa, writing on April 24, says that “we must recognise that the future demand on the airport is strong and can be met only with new hardware” (“No basis for opposing third runway”). He goes on to suggest that the arguments of the opponents do not stand up to scrutiny as “we can all analyse the data and information available”.

Mr Chu’s “strong demand” and “data available” springs from past figures and trends to project a hypothetical future. The same approach was adopted in 2004 in the Port 2020 study – a projection which showed that we needed an additional container terminal.

The reality is, of course, vastly different – our once great port has succumbed to external market realities which were even then apparent to anyone with a less partisan view – and it is indeed fortunate that sane heads prevailed in this rare case and we were not saddled with another costly white elephant infrastructure project.

Our airport business is particularly vulnerable. If the one-third that stems from transit passengers is replaced by direct flights through new air service agreements with mainland China – as is a distinct probability – then we lose this leg of the stool. If the one-third that derives from air cargo falls away upon the decline of manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta – as is already happening – then another leg becomes shaky.

And to assume that a city of but 7 million people will of itself fill the gaps thus lost in aircraft movements is extreme folly.

There is indeed a role in analysis of past trends, but it is unwise to adopt this without due rigour. The Port 2020 study demonstrated how a failure to examine the wider picture could have led us into a very costly blunder indeed.

I have read the detailed official analysis and justification for the third runway, and it is this case made that does not stand up to the scrutiny that Mr Chu suggests we all take.

Clive Noffke, Lantau

Source URL (modified on Apr 29th 2015, 5:07pm):

Key issue of airspace limits side-stepped

SCMP Letters to the Editor

The assistant director of civil aviation tells us that our airport will reach its upper limit of 68 air movements at the end of the year (“UK air traffic system not useful here”, April 27).

However, my understanding is that the limit of our two runways is actually about 80 but this cannot be reached because the central government has not sanctioned northward routes for departing aircraft. This limitation has been in place since the days of planning and has shown no signs of being lifted.

Does it not seem to be unwise to commit HK$140 billion on what is still only hope that this decision will be reversed to allow for full use of three runways: about 120 movements?

It will, of course, conform with the degree of foresight applied before government projects proceed in Hong Kong. We already have a cruise ship terminal with no cruise ships, so why not a third runway with no aeroplanes?

SP Li, Lantau