Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Air Quality Panel Split On WHO Standards

Cheung Chi-fai, SCMP – Updated on Mar 13, 2009

A third of the experts overseeing a government review of air quality objectives believe the standards it is proposing to adopt will not safeguard public health.

Campaign group Friends of the Earth polled 15 members of the panel of advisers ahead of a meeting today, at which consultants will present the review’s initial findings.

Hong Kong’s air quality objectives have not changed since 1987.

The World Health Organisation has proposed three new sets of standards. Of these, Hong Kong is proposing to adopt, as an interim step, the least stringent set.

Critics say these are aimed at developing countries, not wealthy places such as Hong Kong.

Clean-air advocates expect the consultants to stick largely to the government’s plan today.

Asked if they agreed the minimum WHO standards were insufficient to fully protect public health, five of the advisers said that was so. Three are professors of medicine.

The rest of the panel members would not reply or offered no clear response. Among these are businessmen and representatives of the transport and logistics sectors.

Wan Chi-tin, a senior executive from Hongkong Electric, told the green group that he supported practical steps to improve air quality in the next five to seven years but would not say whether he considered the standards adequate.

Ng Hoi-san, a taxi company operator and a panel member, said: “We are not prepared to pay all the costs for a very tight standard that stands a low chance of being accomplished.”

Hahn Chu Hon-keung, environmental affairs manager of Friends of the Earth, feared some panel members would put the interests of their own sector ahead of the public’s.

Comments are closed.