Reply To: Dirty Air is Dangerous Air


short item in S China Morning Post:

Kids wheezing Down Under – what about those in HK?

LAI SEE; Howard Winn; 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. [Dirty air takes breath away.] 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.

Just seen this in response, from air pollution and health expert Professor Anthony Hedley:

Things are beginning to move on the NO2 issue in WHO. The medical literature is now replete with studies on health impacts,especially in Maternal and Child Health,with diverse and serious outcomes (leukaemia,congenital heart disease,growth retardation in pregnancy) at levels considerably lower than the

current WHO annual limit. We have also just shown that compliance with the present short term limit (1 hour=200ug/m3) will not achieve the annual limit of 40 in a high pollution environment like HK.So there is a lot to do here.