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January, 2010:

Pok Fu Lam anger over route for trucks moving MTR waste



30th Jan, 2010

Parents and other residents of Pok Fu Lam will protest today against the relocation of a barge-loading site that will handle soil and rock excavated for construction of the MTR’s South Island Line. The work will mean up to 300 dumper trucks a day plying the area’s roads.

The MTR Corporation plans to move the loading site from Kellett Bay, near the Wah Kwai Estate, to Telegraph Bay, near Cyberport and several luxury residential estates including Residence Bel-Air and Baguio Villa. The barging point will handle part of the 1.5 million cubic metres of soil and rock.

About 100 residents will gather at the barging point today demanding it be moved elsewhere.

They say the new point is farther away from the construction site than the original location, which means the trucks will have to travel farther.

Ronald Chan Ngok-pang, the area’s district councillor, said: “The trucks will have to travel two kilometres farther every day to the construction site, and that creates more pollution and safety issues.” He will lead two more protests outside the Legislative Council next week.

The parent-teacher association of the Independent Schools Foundation Academy – one of four private schools in the neighbourhood – said a sudden increase in the number of trucks would pose a danger to pupils who walk, jog or cycle along the roads. “Our youngest pupil is just five years old,” Edna Wong of the association said. “The roads are narrow and windy, and the trucks always move at high speed.”

David Kidd, the chairman of the board of Kellett School, a British international school, said it was strongly opposed to the proposal.

Not only would the trucks worsen the traffic congestion, the air and noise pollution they caused would affect teaching, and use of the playgrounds.

A traffic bottleneck at the intersection of Pok Fu Lam Road and Victoria Road, in front of Kellett Primary School, would heighten the impact of these problems, he said.

More than 9,000 residents in the area have signed a petition demanding that the MTR Corporation move the barging point elsewhere.

The residents say the barging point at Telegraph Bay is already being used by the Drainage Services Department for a flood-prevention project. More than 100 trucks pass through the area every day.

The MTR Corp says it will only use the site after the department finishes its work early next year. Up to 300 trucks will be deployed at peak hours, but the average will be about 200.

“We believe this site is better than Kellett Bay, as it affects fewer households and the connecting roads are also less busy,” a spokeswoman said.

The only road connecting the Kellett Bay barging point to the construction site is the dual-lane Tin Wan Praya Road, which is already busy with buses and trucks from a concrete plant and a sewage treatment plant. The trucks will now carry their loads to Wong Chuk Hang via Sha Wan Drive, Victoria Road and Shek Pai Wan Road.

Some residents suggested trucks should use separate routes to and from the barging point. They said departing trucks should use Cyberport Road, passing Bel-Air on the Peak before turning into Victoria Road. However, residents of Bel-Air on the Peak are not expected to support that.

The MTR said it would consider all proposals and would widen the affected roads and junctions.

Judicial Review on HZMB

High Court Paper

30th Jan, 2010

A member of the public has filed a High Court action for a judicial review of the EPD’s Environmental assessment report on the HK Zhuhai Macau Bridge.

Clear the Air reveals here the court papers for the public to consider.

China’s bridge of size

The Independant UK

28th January 2010

By Clifford Coonan

It’s 30 miles long, will cost £6.6bn to build, can handle earthquakes of magnitude 8.0, and withstand the impact of a 300,000-tonne vessel

Artist impression of the structure, including bridges, artificial islands and tunnels, that will link Macau, Zhuhai and Hong Kong

HPDI/COWI/Shanghai Tunnel /First Harbour Engineering

Artist impression of the structure, including bridges, artificial islands and tunnels, that will link Macau, Zhuhai and Hong Kong

Couples wander along Lovers’ Promenade in Zhuhai, taking photographs against the backdrop of the gambling enclave of Macau, enjoying the view of the South China Sea. But within sight of the skyscrapers and casinos of Macau, a major transformation is taking place, and in six years’ time when the couples look out, their holiday snaps will have a backdrop of the longest sea bridge in the world.

Building work has just started on the 30-mile Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which will link China’s southern economic hub of Guangdong province to Hong Kong and Macau.

The scale is breathtaking. The bridge is one of the most technically complicated landmark projects in China’s, and the world’s, transport history. Not many bridges, for example, include a tunnel section that travels underwater. And it will bring economic ties closer in the region, underlining the Pearl River Delta’s status as one of the world’s great economic powerhouses.

Everyone is talking about it, from chief executives happy that it will boost the area around Zhuhai, which has been slightly neglected in favour of manufacturing zones like Shenzhen or Dongguan, to those living in the region who are keen to be able to see what is going on in the economic hotspots of Macau and Hong Kong.

But not everyone is as enthusiastic. Environmentalists are worried about the local dolphin population, while some Hong Kong residents fear that the bridge could mean travellers head straight past the former Crown colony without stopping.

Whatever the doubts, the size of the undertaking has given the bridge an unstoppable momentum of its own. When it is finished in 2016, the 73 billion yuan (£6.6bn) bridge will be a six-lane expressway that can handle earthquakes up to magnitude 8.0, strong typhoons and the impact of a 300,000-tonne vessel.

Traffic will travel at around 60mph, and it means that travelling between these economic powerhouses will only take half an hour, compared to three or four hours now. The vast manufacturing towns of the Pearl River Delta have been the engine of China’s remarkable economic growth in the past three decades, and the whole region accounts for around 40 per cent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP), so effective transport links are crucial.

The British-based engineering group Arup is doing design work for the project, and according to Naeem Hussain, Arup’s global bridge leader, the difficulties are considerable. “The challenging part in terms of design was to trying to have the minimal environmental impact,” said Mr Hussain, who is based in Hong Kong. “We have the white dolphin here and we wanted to make sure we don’t impact the water flow. And also we wanted to ensure that the form of the construction doesn’t pollute the water.”

Environmentalists were angered when they heard of the decision to build a bridge across the natural habitat of the endangered white dolphin, known as “the panda of the ocean” because of its slim survival chances.

To try to preserve these imperilled creatures, the city of Zhuhai has set aside a preserve of 180 square miles to help the animal. There are about 2,000 white dolphins left in China, and more than half live in the Pearl River estuary. The builders have also tried to stop pollution in the area. “There is a submerged tunnel near Chep Lap Kok airport on Lantau island. You couldn’t put a bridge with tall towers near the airport. The immersed tube is the longest in the world,” said Mr Hussain.

Each of the bridge’s piers will be 557ft high, and the design team has minimised the structure’s impact on estuary flows by limiting the size and number of columns in the water. “Taking off from Hong Kong airport you will get a fantastic view. The bridge curves over 12.5 miles between Hong Kong and Zhuhai and Macau. We wanted each of the bridges to have their own elegant look but with a unifying visual look,” he said.

The first stage of the project is a land reclamation, which will create a large artificial island off Zhuhai, one of two islands being made in the ocean for the project. This island will become the customs point for people crossing to Macau using the bridge.

Currently, most people crossing from Hong Kong to Macau use the ferry services, but they do not carry vehicles and are vulnerable during the typhoon season in the summer months, so the bridge is seen as a major impetus to commercial traffic between the two cities. It will also mean traffic is 24/7, whereas currently the border is closed at night.

The Hong Kong chief executive, Donald Tsang, is an enthusiastic backer of the plan because it will increase throughput there. But local opposition voices fear the effect will be to reduce passing trade. In some ways, the debate is similar to the angry voices when British road builders built bypass roads that meant some cities have lost a lot of relevance.

For the Chinese government, represented at the opening ceremony by a rising star of the Communist Party tipped to be the next premier, Li Keqiang, these fears mean nothing. People will just move, right?

The cost of the project will be shared among the central government in Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangdong provinces. It is a key element in a plan released by China’s top economic planning authority, the National Development and Reform Commission, which aims to integrate Hong Kong and Macau into the Pearl River Delta area by 2020.

That development will be as visible on Hengqin Island as anywhere. Currently farmland and home to about 3,000 people, the development plan will see it transformed into a major business zone, at a cost of billions of yuan. The island’s population is expected to increase to 280,000 by 2020. Still, if Lovers’ Promenade may not be quite so intimate in a few years’ time, it will certainly offer a spectacular view.

Contributions of Stratospheric Water Vapor to Decadal Changes in the Rate of Global Warming

Science magazine

28th Jan, 2010

Stratospheric water vapor concentrations decreased by about 10% after the year 2000. Here, we show that this acted to slow the rate of increase in global surface temperature over 2000 to 2009 by about 25% compared to that which would have occurred due only to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. More limited data suggest that stratospheric water vapor probably increased between 1980 and 2000, which would have enhanced the decadal rate of surface warming during the 1990s by about 30% compared to estimates neglecting this change. These findings show that stratospheric water vapor represents an important driver of decadal global surface climate change.

If you want to read more, please hit the jump.


Off-peak buses smaller, greener

The first KMB bus equipped with Euro V engine.

Here is the first KMB bus equipped with Euro V engine, photo taken in 2009. While the new two-axle double-decker will be introduced soon.

SCMP, Anita Lam

27th Jan, 2010

Kowloon Motor Bus will introduce a new two-axle double-decker in a bid to cut costs and reduce pollution.

The new model, to be introduced next month during non-peak hours, meets the Euro V emission standard, which means it releases at least 40 per cent less nitrogen oxide emissions than most buses on the road.

Most Hong Kong buses are 12-metre double-deckers with three axles.

The two-axle buses are not only cleaner but are more cost efficient.

However, they do have a smaller capacity of 88 passengers, compared to over 140 for larger models.

“We could deploy these smaller and greener buses during non-peak hours, when patronage is low,” KMB’s principal engineer, Kane Shum Yuet-hung, said.

The new model has an intelligent gearbox that adjusts automatically to the best shift under different road environments and changes in loading, while its air conditioning adjusts every four seconds.

The new model costs about HK$2.5 million – cheaper than the average price of HK$3 million for three-axle buses, but its mass production will have to wait until the first model completes road testing in the next three quarters of this year.

New World First Bus also plans to introduce the same model next month.

Meanwhile, KMB insists it has no plans to increase fares in the near future.

Bus companies can make a fare rise application when a formula consisting of figures on wage-index changes, the composite consumer price index and the company’s productivity gain calculate to an outcome higher than 2 per cent.

KMB managing director Edmond Ho Tat-man said the latest calculation – taking into account last July’s salary increase for bus drivers – gave an outcome of just 0.59 per cent.

“At present, we have no plan to raise fares,” Ho said. “If we can rationalise more bus routes, it would further ease our pressure for a fare rise.”

The Environment Bureau is consulting the public over an air quality objective that includes 19 proposals to improve the city’s air quality. They include bus route rationalisation and quicker replacement of old bus models – which officials estimate may push bus fares up by 15 per cent.

Rationalizing of bus routes and replacement of pre euro diesel vehicles‏


25th Jan. 2010

The SCMP article (Saturday) below demonstrates the normal modus operandi of the apathetic HK Government – tell the public it will cost them more for the right to have clean air. Meanwhile the hospital admissions due to roadside pollution and loss of productivity would reverse if we used hybrid buses so the Government would save billions in healthcare costs.

They should privatise the bus transportation system if the mega rich tycoons running our bus routes don’t like to do what they are told under their franchises which require all new buses to be Euro 4 or higher and force them to replace their polluting fleet, again listed within their franchise terms. Diesel bus routes should terminate in large interchanges and the adjoining main arterial roads should be served by non polluting hybrid electric shuttle buses only and paid for by the Government so the bus companies have no say in the matter other than to pay a portion of the electric shuttle interconnection fee. Only the hybrid  electric shuttle buses should ply the Nathan Road / Causeway Bay / Central routes and the Octopus fare would include the shuttle portion.

London will shortly have 330 such hybrid buses on its congested streets. Shanghai’s complete bus fleet operates on methanol fuel. Australia uses LPG and natural gas buses. Hong Kong kowtows to the bus tycoons.

Our 5,800 franchised buses (+110 single deckers on Lantao ) carry 3.8 million passengers per day mostly during the rush hours whilst the rest of the day they are polluting mobile painted advertising billboards travelling mostly empty nose to tail on Nathan Rd or in Causeway Bay to Western . The vast majority of these franchised buses are pre Euro or Euro 1 buses. A Euro 5 bus is 5 times less polluting than a Euro 1 bus. Meanwhile these buses account for 40% of HK’s total vehicle emissions. There are 73,000 pre Euro or Euro 1 diesel vehicles in Hong Kong which together with unregulated high sulphur bunker fuel burning from ocean going ships mostly contribute to our roadside pollution. The Government has a voluntary scheme for diesel truck owners to scrap their vehicles and this needs to become mandatory as does the introduction /enforcement of an Emissions Control Area for local shipping.

Section 26 (2) of the KMB Franchise (and no doubt other franchises) states

“The grantee shall adopt, at such time and in such manner, such commercially available and proven technologies and products on its existing and newly acquired buses as the Commissioner may reasonably specify after consultation with the Grantee for the purpose of reducing exhaust and noise emissions in the operation of the Bus service.”

It is within the power of the Government to clean up our bus routes today. They must enforce the retirement of old polluting diesel vehicles and setup a hybrid electric bus shuttle network in our downtown congested areas whilst allowing registration of LPG driven private cars.


Trimming bus routes could see fares go up

Cheung Chi-fai Saturday Jan 23, 2010

Transport officials warn that bus fares may go up as they trim the number of routes, but lawmakers are pressing for operators to explore new types of fare concessions, such as a single trip discount endorsed by several companies.

The officials, who this month began with district councils their annual review of bus routes, admit that winning community support for plans to axe or merge trips remains an uphill battle.

At a joint panel meeting of transport and environmental affairs in the Legislative Council yesterday, lawmakers urged officials to study incentives such as the various operators offering joint-concessions on fares for interchanges.

Some lawmakers pressed officials to accelerate the rate that older, more polluting buses are replaced with ones that meet latest European Union emission standards – Euro V. There are still about 1,700 buses on the road that conform to Euro I, meaning their particles emission is 50 times higher than the latest models. Companies must retire buses after a maximum of 17 years on the road.

Buses form the city’s second-largest public transport system, carrying 3.8 million people a day. But they also account for 40 per cent of the total emissions from vehicles.

In its air quality objective review released last year, the Environment Bureau proposed cutting back the frequency of bus service by 10 per cent. The bureau now says such a reduction would eliminate 2 per cent of particles emissions and reduce nitrogen oxide concentration by 10 per cent at the roadside level.

Environment officials say route rationalisation efforts can save operators money and will affect fares less than upgrading vehicles will, which they fear may drive up prices by 15 per cent.

But Yau Shing-mu, the undersecretary for transport and housing, said he would not rule out some passengers might have to pay more for changing buses after adjustments to service.

“Some might have their fare cut but there could also be some who have to pay more. We know these passengers might not like it, but in general, bus services would become more convenient too,” Yau said.

Yau said there were rules governing the replacement of buses but whether the government and bus firms had to bear all the cost was subject to debate. “If there is a consensus on that, we will do it,” he said.

Kam Nai-wai, a lawmaker with the Democratic Party, said the government should consider subsidising fare concessions on interchanges.

“What consumer would change buses if the fare was not substantially lower?” he said.

Between 2004 and 2009, 46 routes have been cut and 19 have been shortened. But at the same time, 20 new routes were introduced to new areas not covered by rail, and 86 routes had their frequency of service increased. The number of buses during the same period fell from 6,179 to 5,793.

Cutting the number of routes or trimming the frequency of service are sensitive topics for local politicians as residents and district councillors tend to oppose them. Many people still prefer “point to point” transport, and find it a hassle to switch buses mid-way.

Transport officials say 59 out of 105 proposals to cut routes or reduce service frequency were rejected by district councillors in the past three years. One-fourth of the rejected proposals duplicate railway lines.

Dr Kitty Poon Kit, undersecretary for the environment, said she hoped there would be broad support for route changes from across the political parties. Her bureau can provide data on the environmental benefits of each district proposal for local politicians.

Dirty, old vehicles in the cross hairs

Cheung Chi-fai
Updated on
Jan 05, 2010

Tougher measures might be considered to phase out old and dirty diesel commercial vehicles given that a voluntary replacement scheme had received a lukewarm response, a senior environment official said yesterday. They could include forcing owners of such vehicles to replace them.

The scheme, which expires at the end of March, provides HK$3.2 billion for cash grants to operators who switch to cleaner vehicles. Since its launch in March 2007, just 13,000 applications have been approved, and of the money, HK$2 billion remains unused. There are still 39,000 of these old diesel vehicles on the road. That is 20,000 fewer than in 2007, but of the 20,000 some 5,800 have simply been deregistered by their owners.

The vehicles are classified as pre-Euro or Euro I, meaning they were built either before the European Union introduced its first (Euro I) restrictions on truck and bus exhaust emissions in 1992, or before they were tightened in 1996. The current Euro V standards are between 62 per cent and 94 per cent tighter than Euro I standards.

Dr Kitty Poon Kit, acting Secretary for the Environment, told the Legislative Council’s subcommittee on improving air quality the government had written to owners of these remaining vehicles reminding them to submit applications for grants under the scheme soon.

However, she said it was not known how many more owners would take up the offer given that the economic downturn had hit the transport sector hard.

Poon said that, as well as the “carrot” of replacement grants, the government would consider wielding a stick – by compelling owners to scrap their polluting vehicles. However, she ruled out the administration buying the vehicles. Last year lawmakers rejected a proposal to increase licence fees for older vehicles, citing the economic downturn.

Panel on Transport and Panel on Environmental Affairs

Legco panels discussed reducing or reorganizing bus trips this morning.

Legco panels discussed reducing or reorganizing bus

Clear the Air, Edited by Ryan Chan

22nd Jan, 2010

Bus is one of the main sources of air pollution in Hong Kong. According to the document of Legislative Council, on a territorial basis, franchised buses accounted for about 6% of respirable suspended particulates and 11% of the nitrogen oxides of road transport emission in Hong Kong in 2008. At busy traffic corridors, they could account for up to 40% of the total vehicular emissions. Therefore reducing or reorganizing bus trips is an effective way to mitigate the roadside air pollution and hence the health risk to the people. Thats why Panel on Transport and Panel on Environmental Affairs met together to discuss about the issue.

In this meeting, many Legislative members made suggestions to the issue. They knew that reorganizing bus trips can help to reduce air pollution in Hong Kong. For example, Mr. Wong Kwok-hing mentioned that the citizens are willing to interchange between different bus trips as they want to improve air quality in Hong Kong. Mr. Kam Nai-wai had another opinion; he thought that reorganizing bus trips per se cannot solve the problem. In order to improve the air quality in Hong Kong the government needs to phrase out the use of per-euro buses promptly, and introduce environmental friendly vehicles. Some of the members stated that the Government did not provide enough information for the citizens to judge the effect of the policies. If there are research and data about different policies, the citizens can distinguish which policies is better for improving air quality.

After discussed for an hour, Ms. Audrey EU Yuet-mee concluded the meeting with two suggestions:

  • l Require Ms. Carolina YIP, Deputy Commissioner / Transport Services & Management, Transport Department to draft a report about the effect of switching to updated Euro buses in Hong Kong to be a reference to the citizens.
  • l Require Transport Department to draft a list of bus trips that can be reorganized or reduced. The list is useful for the District Council to discuss the issue. At the same time, the impact on the bus drivers brought by the reorganization of bus trips needs to be calculated, and being reported by the Transportation Department.

The citizens are not familiar with the effect of the policies about reducing or reorganizing bus trips. If government can do a research about that, the data collected can be a reference for the citizens. If they know that the policies are good to their health, we are sure that they will support the policies, just like what Mr. Wong Kwok-hing had mentioned in the meeting.








Hong-Kong Air Quality


In an interview with Green Inc. last week, Eva Wong, a spokeswoman from Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department, suggested that while air quality along the city’s roads can be problematic, overall air quality in Hong Kong was generally good. With no local industry, the transport sector is the main source of Hong Kong’s pollution.

But critics of the government’s measuring methods continue to argue that the department’s analysis is flawed.

“The E.P.D. continues to make comments about Hong Kong’s very high pollutant levels which are distorted, disingenuous and misleading,” said Anthony Hedley, a public health physician and chairman of community medicine at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health.

The EPD is using a biased system to test air pollution in Hong Kong, in two aspects:

·          One is the coverage of the stations is not good enough

·          Another bias is the air quality objectives (AQO’s) used by the government are outdated for over 20 years.

In Hong Kong, 11 general stations and 3 roadside pollution stations test air quality. But these are not enough nor a valid basis on which to base a proper assessment of Hong Kong’s air quality:

  •  Firstly, because Hong Kong has 18 districts, and yet there are only 14 stations, and the coverage of the stations is not good enough to reflect the accurate situation of Hong Kong air pollution.

From the Mobile Air-monitoring Platform (MAP) from University of Science and Technology, it is clear that even the air pollution in the same district in which there is one of the stations is at variance to the EPD’s readings.

Ex. In Des Voeux Road in Central, the MAP records a higher pollution standard than the main station of EPD. It’s the same situation in other main street of different districts such as King’s Road…

Therefore, the coverage of the stations is not good enough to let the people know the whole picture of air quality in Hong Kong.

  •   Secondly, there is a bias in respect of the pollution objectives of the EPD, which are now considerably outdated.

Joanne Ooi, the chief executive of the Clean Air Network, a local environmental group, and a marketing officer with Filligent, a company that has developed an antipollution mask, points out that Hong Kong’s air quality guidelines have not been revised since 1987.

Indeed, in the NYT’s article, the EPD mentioned that “Our Air Pollution Index (A.P.I.) system makes reference to Hong Kong’s current Air Quality Objectives (A.Q.O.’s)”. However, Hong Kong’s current Air Quality Objectives have not updated since 1987! What the EDP is really saying, therefore, is that” For the whole in 2009, the A.P.I. level breached the 100 mark 7 to 13 percent of the time at each of our three roadside air-quality monitoring stations.”, based on standards set in 1987 when not only traffic volumes and conditions were considerably different than those of today, but also today’s Hong Kong is a very different place.  In 1987 there were nothing like as many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings as there are today, and this has further exacerbated Hong Kong’s air pollution problems by the “chasm effect” of trapped roadside polluted air.

As the data collected by the EPD does not effectively state the real position, we need to look at all the other data, and which has been collected by academic experts in this field by one of Hong Kong’s leading universities, in order to judge whether the air quality in Hong Kong is dangerous or not.

But Sarath Guttikunda, the founder of, a Web site that informs the South Asian public about pollution issues, believes that the E.P.D.’s statements are helpful, in that they put the spotlight on Hong Kong’s transport sector.

The data collected by MAP of 12 busy locations in Hong Kong, who used the WHO standard as well in their analysis of the data, is very relevant and really tells a much more accurate story of the reality of road side pollution in Hong Kong than the data that the EPD chooses to rely on.

However, it is hardly surprising that the EPD does not make any reference to this new data as in 6 of these locations the readings even exceed Hong Kong’s grossly outdated A.Q.O. standard, and in 10 of them, the readings reach the dangerous level when one compares the data with the WHO standard. So there really should now be no question as to whether the ambient pollution levels are reaching life threatening levels.

The data is there plain and simple for all to see. The sad fact remains, however, that the EPD not only refuses to recognize that, but still seeks to portray a picture to the public of Hong Kong, and, indeed, to the world at large, that Hong Kong’s air is safe and at acceptable levels.

According to Dr. Hedley, although high pollution days certainly hit the headlines, it is the high average levels that are most harmful.

                “In the case of air pollution and protecting public health, comparisons between nations are less important than assessment of standards based on the latest medical research,” said Ms. Ooi.

The present air-quality regulations in Hong Kong, Ms. Ooi argued, “permit 1,100 avoidable deaths per year.”

Ms. Ooi maintained that in 2006, Hong Kong’s air was three times more polluted than that of New York and twice as polluted as Singapore.

To conclude, the Data collected by EPD, in order to test the air pollution in Hong-Kong, does not state effectively the real position since it refers to Hong Kong’s current Air Quality Objectives which has not been updated since 1987. To measure air quality more precisely, the government should work more closely with universities since the data collected by MAP appears more relevant than those collected by the EPD.



xin_2203043016561132251874Source: The New York Times,



To see the article, click here

Youth Action Forum by Kely Support Group & Arbor

Clear The Air support the Youth Action Forum hold on this Sunday. Please join us.


Download the poster here.

Deadly air pollution on the increase in Hong Kong

Want to do sports in HK? There are only 30 days in HK which the air is safe to do sports outside according to the WHO guidelines.

Want to do sports in HK? There are only 30 days in HK which the air is safe to do sports outside according to the WHO guidelines.

A report in Hong Kong media last week says the city and its surrounding areas experienced life-threatening levels of air pollution one in every eight days last year.
The South China Morning Post reports figures from the Environment Protection Department showing there were 44 days of ‘very high pollution’ reported in Central, on Hong Kong island. In some areas air quality has deteriorated five-fold in just five years, and there are criticisms that official records do not show the whole picture.

Click here to read the report from New York Times.

Presenter: Bo Hill
Speaker: Gerald Winnington-Ingram, Clear the Air Hong Kong

WINNINGTON-INGRAM: We have now in Hong Kong a situation where we only have 41 days of healthy breathable air according to the WHO guidelines per year. Irrespective of the fact that you cannot see anything which is a shame, because it really is a beautiful city and a beautiful place to be living, the health implications are very, very serious and you certainly would not want to be doing any physical exercise on one of those days. We have only some 30 days in which it is safe to do sports outside and then according to the WHO guidelines.

HILL: Are there particular areas of Hong Kong, say Central or the New Territories, that suffer worse than elsewhere?

WINNINGTON-INGRAM: There are. For example, Nathan Road, which is an extremely popular tourist destination – well there we have nitrogen dioxide levels at some 380 milligrams per cubic metre and that’s well in excess of WHO guideline which is for 200 milligrams per cubic metre and in fact even Hong Kong’s own air quality objective is for 300, so it’s well in excess of that. So that’s Nathan Road. Plus also parts of the Central District – Des Voeux Road, which is a major thoroughfare running through the central business area, that has a reading of around 390 milligrams per cubic metre of nitrogen dioxide. Hennessy Road is another one which is in Wan Chai, again a very popular local area – 480. So these are areas you certainly don’t want to be going in at all on a bad day. But if you’re suffering from any form of respiratory disease or heart complaint, it is actually very dangerous. We had in 2008, over 1,000 avoidable deaths, some 81,000 avoidable hospital days as a consequence, something in the order of seven and a quarter million avoidable doctors visits and all of that amounts to the cost in the order of about 230 million Hong Kong dollars, which could have been avoided. Now that doesn’t even take into account all the other ailments such as coughs, sore throats and itchy eyes, that were not even reported.

HILL: So huge costs, not only monetary but also physically. What’s been done about it and can Hong Kong authorities be doing more?

WINNINGTON-INGRAM: Well, I think they could be doing a lot more and we certainly and other green groups are campaigning extremely hard. Fifty three per cent of air pollution is local and it’s actually Hong Kong is the dominant source. Yes, we do get air pollution coming from the Pearl River Delta of course, but roadside pollution which is a major problem in Hong Kong is caused by local conditions. Some 50 per cent of Hong Kong’s total emissions is also being caused by power plants. Forty per cent of roadside emissions have been caused by buses. The government’s figures go nowhere close to showing the real picture and the real affect of air pollution in Hong Kong.

source: Radio Australia‏