Hong Kong suffers Chronic Air Pollution

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 53 total)
  • Author
  • #7679
    Merrill Lynch is advising clients to sell Hong Kong office landlords in favour of Singapore’s, saying the city’s air pollution will prompt skilled talent to move further south. "Buy Singapore office landlords, sell Hong Kong office landlords," the US investment bank said in a report. "The government in HK is relatively powerless to address the true causes until Beijing gets tough. It could be a long and choking wait that many could choose not to endure." The long-term competitiveness of Hong Kong is in "some doubt" due to the poor air quality and potential exodus of highly skilled talent, especially from the financial service sector, who would chose to live elsewhere, the report said. "Official policy fails to recognise, and ultimately respond, to the competitive threat from Singapore," Merrill Lynch said. …

    Merrill downgrades HK office sector, cites pollution


    Business comment article in UK’s Independent looks at increasingly polluted China, including Hong Kong:

    For anyone who has not been to Hong Kong for a while, the smog comes as a shock. It is all- pervading. In Hong Kong, the number of days with reduced visibility has tripled in the past three years, and most business people I met were thinking of leaving the city, fearing the effect pollution was having on their children. One recent survey discovered that 40 per cent of businesses were finding it harder to recruit overseas nationals because of this factor. Many ex-pats are relocating to Singapore.

    Will Hong Kong, this thriving centre of capitalism, one day choke into extinction?

    The problems come from the explosive growth of heavy industry upstream in the Pearl River Delta – where thousands of factories belch out smoke. The scale and speed with which this has happened is ample testimony to the “China effect”.

    Expert View: Message to China… wake up and smell the carbon


    Another article on HK pollution in international media, this time UK’s Daily Telegraph, includes:

    At 25 C, ozone and other chemical pollutants turn from gas into smog – and day-time temperatures reach 25 C for much of the year in southern China. From that point, it takes 12 hours for the cloud formed to travel from the factories along the Pearl River in Guangdong, the Chinese province surrounding Hong Kong, to the island. Even when it is not warm, there are other hazards. While ozone and other heat-affected compounds come from chemicals, there is also dust from the cement works and porcelain factories, and sulphur dioxide from the power stations, … Christopher Hammerbeck, who runs the British Chamber of Commerce, said the environment was becoming a recruitment issue. "Families don’t want to come here because they have read about the pollution."

    Dark cloud of pollution hangs over future of Hong Kong

    Post edited by: Martin, at: 2007/01/27 14:16


    Via googling, just come across summary of paper on recent study on air pollution across Pearl River Delta, inc Hong Kong:

    Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was measured for 4 months during 2002-2003 at seven sites located in the rapidly developing Pearl River Delta region of China, an area encompassing the major cities of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The 4-month average fine particulate matter concentration ranged from 37 to 71 ug/m3 in Guangdong province and from 29 to 34 ug/m3 in Hong Kong. Main constituents of fine particulate mass were organic compounds (24-35% by mass) and sulfate (21-32%). … The vicinity of Guangzhou is determined to be a major source area influencing regional concentrations of PM2.5 … In addition, it appears that sources outside of the Pearl River Delta contribute a significant fraction of overall fine particulate matter in Hong Kong and Guangdong province. This is evident in the relatively high PM2.5 concentrations observed at the background sites of 18 ug/m3 (Tap Mun, southerly flow conditions) and 27 ug/m3 (Conghua, northerly flow conditions).

    Source areas and chemical composition of fine particulate matter in the Pearl River Delta Region of China Note that even the figure for Tap Mun during southerlies is significant, when look at new US study showing fine particulates boost risks of heart attacks and strokes: Air Pollution Linked to Heart Deaths Risk May Be Higher Than Previous Studies Suggest


    News article on bbc site includes:

    There are two main sources of air pollution in Hong Kong. In terms of sheer tonnage, most of the air pollution comes from factories in the Pearl River Delta across the border, and it is the particulates they emit that cause the haze. But this comes in concentrated spurts. The rest of the time it is local sources – vehicle emissions, power plants and marine traffic – that are at the root of the problem. Christine Loh, head of the think tank Civic Exchange, says this means that blame cannot just be shifted over the border, and that the government has been slow to act. "So far, the government is in denial. It’s not that the government is not doing anything. It’s a question of whether it is doing enough, fast enough," she said. Even the pollutants that drift over the border are in one sense "made in Hong Kong" – many of the 70,000 factories in the Pear River Delta are owned by Hong Kong businesses. Serious cost "Pollution is responsible for serious chronic disease and premature death on a daily basis," said Anthony Hedley, professor of community health at the University of Hong Kong.

    Pollution clouds Hong Kong’s future


    Yesterday’s Sunday Morning Post had lead news item titled “Fund firms ‘driven out of polluted HK’ “

    Mentioned that some funds have chosen to move headquarters to or set up in Singapore, in part because of worries over air pollution in Hong Kong, and its impacts on staff members’ children. Though no official comments, insiders at several of the companies said pollution had been a major factor.

    Good quote from an unnamed senior manager:

    You get to a point where you don’t want your children growing up with gas masks on.

    Again some international coverage of air pollution in Hong Kong, this time on Reuters Alertnet. Maybe some day the govt will decide to really act, rather than talk; or maybe will stick to telling us of InAction Blue Sky, and boasting of improving air quality when get clean breezes from over S China Sea (even though at same time, urban air quality still poor/bad along streets).

    Hong Kong’s air pollution is making it more difficult for companies to attract foreign staff to the territory, a survey released on Sunday by the city’s American Chamber of Commerce shows. In the survey, which covered responses from 89 chamber members, 51 percent of respondents said they had experienced difficulty recruiting professionals to come and work in Hong Kong and 70 percent said they knew of professionals who had declined to work in the territory because of the poor quality of the environment. Given the deteriorating air quality, 57 percent of survey respondents indicated their companies were likely in future to invest more money elsewhere instead of Hong Kong.

    HK pollution problem deters expats – AmCham You can download pdf file of the seven-page report from: Environment Survey Report


    Remember a few weeks back, when there was a period of blue skies and clear air as breezes blew in from S China Sea (yet still plenty of grot in roadside air) – and a bureaucratic buffoon stood up and announced that measures to combat HK air pollution were working? Well, here we are a short time later, and with northeast monsoon wafting airborne crap in from border, it’s horribly murky outdoors. Current API page of Env Protection Department shows "high" air pollution at all stations – even Tap Mun, out in Tolo Channel, which I figure is not affected by HK city pollution with northeast winds. But can we expect any of our bureaucrats to emerge from their air-conditioned offices to tell us the Action Blue Sky campaign launched by HK government has so far been a massive disaster, an utter flop and no more than a limp-wristed PR campaign with little but hot air? Any one ranking high in the Env Protection Department about to hold a press conference, tell us the air is still filthy and disgusting and vile and an insult to Hong Kong’s attempts to be a World City? Or how about some official popping round to a hospital or two, finding people who have respiratory problems exacerbated by pollution – perhaps even finding some of the 2000-plus individuals who will be killed by air pollution this year, and saying, "We’re really sorry about this. Sorry about the greed and the money grubbing and the corruption and the cheapskate overseas buyers and the lack of accountability of officials in Hong Kong and China. We’re sorry you and your family and your friends can’t enjoy what’s surely among the most basic of human rights – the right to breathe clean air." Of course such things won’t happen. We can expect our bureaucratic "leaders" to remain in their bunkers; with one or two perhaps ready to emerge next summer, when we just might enjoy another 2-3 week window of southerly breezes and clean air. Three weeks, in a whole year – perhaps that’s now about all we really manage; otherwise, a clear day here, a day there; and long spells of smog, smog, smog. (And, in case you haven’t guessed, I’m not happy about it.)


    The bureaucrat I mentioned above is – I see from letter to SCMP, then some googling – Edward Yau Tang-wah, relatively newly appointed Secretary for the Environment. Once installed, Yau was quick to follow some days of real blue skies with boast about Hong Kong actually achieving some success with reducing air pollution. Hello Edward (avid HK Outdoors reader that you are!) – I wonder if you’ve ventured outside lately? Maybe even now you’re preparing press release to say HK air remains shamefully, obscenely filthy – and even admitting there’s hardly a darn thing you can do about it, not when nearby China, and even Donald Tsang, hell-bent on "progress" through same old, same old factories and concrete and so on. Maybe, though, you are to be pitied a little, Edward, for reading your background it appears you entered the job with little environmental knowledge – and maybe zero experience – as far as I can see. Here is your background info, Mr Edward Yau Tang-wah:

    Mr Yau has served in various bureaux and departments, including the former Security Branch, the former City and New Territories Administration, the former Health and Welfare Branch, the former Transport Branch, Correctional Services Department and the former Finance Branch. He was Deputy Director-General of Trade (later renamed Deputy Director-General of Trade and Industry) from January, 1999, to May, 2001, and Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Washington from May, 2001, to April, 2004. He has been Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower since April, 2004.

    Senior Appointments – hardly suggests you know, or care, much about the environment, so your silly statement in July maybe understandable. Though statement perhaps helps explain why you came last in recent poll of how our government people were doing: http://hkupop.hku.hk/english/release/release492.html The real problem, then, perhaps lies above you. Say, with Donald Tsang – who seemed so proud of the Action Blue Sky Campaign, yet is likewise very very quiet on days with grotty air like this. Your appointment, Edward, plus rather low ranking of Environmental portfolio, helps show that environment is not really a government priority: over 2000 people a year may die from filthy air, but most die out of sight, and far out of the government’s mind. This shot from shortly after lunchtime today; was there a cloud in the sky? – hard to tell at the time, with all the crud around. (Maybe some mist, too; again, hard to tell) Now, just started to rain; will clean the air somewhat, before next waves of particulates. airpollution15sept07.jpg


    With northerlies/northeasterlies persisting, and no rain for what seems ages, foul air pollution seems never ending at present; and – of course! – Edward Yau hasn’t made any utterances on the issue. Checking Env Protection Dept site, can see that air pollution is "High" at all stations (well, very high at two), with respirable suspended particulates the main contributor. Reflecting fact this is a regional issue, even at Tap Mun out in Tolo Harbour, the API is horribly high. Here’s latest chart – showing pollution level stuck at nigh on 100. TapMunAPI8Dec07.gif


    It may not be the kind of White Christmas people tend to dream of, but looks like we could have some days of white yet cloudless skies over Xmas – thanks to massive amounts of suspended particulates (which are invading our lungs in HK as I write) Here, the sun virtually setting in mid-afternoon yesterday, because of the murk. Just utterly horrendous, and shameful (yet how many with power to do anything major about air pollution feel any sense of shame re this?).



    Having spent 30 days in the Maldives, training hard running etc, I attempted my first 2 hr run on Sat morning up on Ma On Shan….pollution symptoms – immediate, sore throat/swollen glands..and felt so lethargic and tired…..


    Government spin doctors and ditherers re air quality standards won’t be chuffed by yet another report in international media about our dire and dangerous air. Latest from AFP, includes:

    In recent years, a thick haze originating from factories in southern China has enveloped Hong Kong for large chunks of the year, blocking views of its famous harbour and raising health fears.

    Combined with the city’s home-grown pollution, scientists and business leaders say it presents a serious economic risk to the financial hub, both for its ability to attract and retain talent and the associated health costs.

    When Teena Goulet moved to Hong Kong in 1995 she thought she would never leave but five years after moving here, the keen outdoorswoman developed a chronic cough.

    "I would have retired there," said Goulet, speaking by phone from her new home in California. "But when you cannot breath, it kind of tells you what to do."

    A recent study commissioned by think tank Civic Exchange said one in five residents were considering leaving Hong Kong because of its dire air. Of the more than 1,000 people surveyed, 97 percent were local Chinese.

    Michael DeGolyer, a political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University who did the study, said the mood was such that one "tipping point" could provoke an exodus, particularly among managers and administrators.

    [Prof Anthony] Hedley, who is leaving Hong Kong after 21 years here partly over worries about the air — he was diagnosed with adult onset asthma in his 60s — said the government must wake up to the time bomb.

    "(The question for the government is) how many premature deaths are you prepared to accept?" said Hedley.

    Any tougher regulations are likely to face opposition from sections of the local business community, which operates around 55,000 factories in Guangdong.

    Goulet, who is now planning a move to Japan, said such intransigence was short-sighted: "Hong Kong is choking on its own greed."

    Hong Kong’s economic growth spluttering on filthy air







      Question… little off topic but the seletion of air purfiers in HK aren’t the best. Is it ok and possible to buy one in the US and ship into Hong Kong? Air purifiers consider electronics? as I know electronics can’t be imported.


      I’d never thought of doing this; surely not such an issue if one for personal use. Maybe try it and see!

    Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 53 total)
    • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.