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Kids wheezing Down Under – what about those in HK?


Jul 25, 2012

There is less than cheery news from Australia on the subject of air pollution and child health.

A national study of 2,860 primary school children found nitrogen dioxide (NO2), found in motor vehicle exhaust, was present in the lungs of two-thirds of the children from the 55 schools tested, according to Melbourne’s The Age newspaper. Researchers found that vehicle pollution is giving otherwise healthy children asthma-like symptoms, potentially affecting their lung growth and function.

In cases where NO2 was found, children experienced ”asthma-like” symptoms, including wheezing. Their lung volume was reduced and their airways inflamed.

The study found that NO2 exposure was not producing typical asthma but a non-specific lung effect that did not improve with asthma medication.

The National Environment Protection Council commissioned the Australian Child Health and Air Pollution Study and noted that air pollution has a greater impact on children than adults.

Interestingly, that kind of report could not be produced in Hong Kong under the present structure of the Environmental Protection Department. So far as air pollution is concerned it just measures emissions and has no remit to concern itself with public health.

That is the concern of the Department of Health, which likewise does not concern itself with emissions. This is all part of the emasculation of the EPD that has occurred over the past decade. Critics argue that the EPD should have a clear public health remit.

It would be an interesting test of the government’s complacency over air pollution to conduct a similar survey on the health of children in Hong Kong.

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Government complacency over air quality and its effect on the population is matched by absurdity elsewhere.

We have seen extracts of a meeting that reported on the progress of street cleaning along Wan Po Road, which runs past Lohas Park to the landfill. This road has the distinction of being washed six times a day – eight times a day at Lohas Park. This is presumably because the residents don’t like refuse trucks running along the road. This is the problem with living in a residential development built in the middle of an industrial estate. But there is more.

Taxpayers will be delighted to hear that the trees along the road are washed regularly. This occurs under the watchful eye of none other than officers from the Environmental Protection Department

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