Reply To: Hong Kong suffers Chronic Air Pollution


I sent the following letter to the editor of the South China Morning Post; edited version appeared on Friday 27 October:

Three months into the Hong Kong Government’s Action Blue Sky Campaign, we are shrouded below the greyest autumn skies I’ve seen – even on days when there are few or no clouds in the sky.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang has lately tried to obfuscate the issue, suggesting the air pollution problem is chiefly a matter of reduced visibility, and small particulates “may not affect us”. Now, just as he seems befuddled by pollution, Mr Tsang may not be too familiar with the Internet, and a search engine called Google, but to help him I have employed both to look for information on “respirable suspended particles”. And I have readily found information indicating they indeed affect our health.

For instance, in a report by CNN, I found: ‘According to an article in “Heart,” the journal of the British Cardiac Society: “Epidemiology has clearly shown a link between increases in particulate air pollution and deaths and admissions caused by heart failure, myocardial infarction and arrhythmia.”

‘While scientists have yet to fully explain exactly how the presence of the ultra-fine pollutants causes increased heart disease, “the association of air pollution with cardiac mortality and morbidity is beyond doubt,” the journal says.

‘Many pollution researchers believe vehicle exhausts pump out microscopic specks of carbon which are coated with chemicals such as chromium, peroxide and hydrocarbons resulting from the burnt fuel.’

Given such information, we might hope “strong government” would result in robust action, not simply yet more talking, with some moves towards more fuel efficient vehicles even as the government opts to buy gas-guzzling luxury cars, and plans more highways, and the huge bridge to Zhuhai.

The huge bridge scheme should be abandoned if the government is serious about the Action Blue Sky Campaign. For not only will the bridge increase road traffic, especially container vehicles, in western Hong Kong, it is also aimed at spurring development on the west shores of the Pearl River. This increased development will in turn increase air pollution, condemning us to ever greyer skies, and a rising toll from noxious gases, and particulates.

The CNN report – which I also cited in post above- is at:
Invisible enemy spurs health worries
Asia confronts growing problem of ultrafine particles