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Letters to the Editor, January 24, 2013

Submitted by admin on Jan 24th 2013, 12:00am


Comments on Beijing’s bad air appalling

Your report (“‘Beijing cough’ an insult to capital, says professor”, January 22) that a senior health professional, Professor Pan Xiaochuan , has contrived a bizarre piece of misinformation denying the effects of air pollution on human health is disappointing and depressing.

The central government should reaffirm that it recognises that pollution harms everyone, regardless of race and culture.

The suggestion that Chinese citizens in Beijing have somehow accommodated to the catastrophic impact of pollutants on their immune and cardiopulmonary systems is ridiculous and should be strongly repudiated.

We certainly do not wish to hear this nonsense echoed by any quarter here in Hong Kong.

It is inconsistent with high- quality mainland medical and environmental health research, and the judgment of the veteran environmentalist, Professor Qu Geping , who acknowledges that economic plans have failed to protect environmental health (“Top adviser says weak rule of law fed pollution mess”, January 21).

Although their power to influence the situation quickly is limited, there is also clear recognition of the toxicity of China’s urban pollution by Beijing health authorities and education commission, and other academics and businesses, who realise that Chinese cities are being destroyed as desirable destinations by uncontrolled pollution.

The thousands of children forming queues at health stations are the most sensitive sentinels of the harm to population health. A majority will be from the lowest socio-economic groups.

Any Beijing residents who may appear to have tolerated the physiological insults of pollution will simply be survivors of the large-scale epidemic which has pushed many others into clinics, hospitals and early graves.

The same conclusion applies to Hong Kong.

Anthony Hedley, honorary professor, department of community medicine, University of Hong Kong

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