Date
30 March 2017
A sharp increase in the number of vehicles on the roads in the past decade has contributed to Hong Kong's deteriorating air quality. Photo: HKEJ
A sharp increase in the number of vehicles on the roads in the past decade has contributed to Hong Kong's deteriorating air quality. Photo: HKEJ

Worsening HK pollution killed 2,196 people last year, says CAN

More than 2,000 Hong Kong people died last year as a result of air pollution, costing the economy HK$27.4 billion (US$3.53 billion), according to an environmental group.

The findings by Clean Air Network (CAN) came amid claims by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) that air quality had improved in 2015, Apple Daily reports.   

Only a few districts including Central and Western, Eastern and Tai Po suffered from serious pollution mainly because of wind direction, EPD said. 

But a CAN analysis of pollution data said the government omitted some important benchmarks.

EPD did not mention the relationship between death rate and the Air Quality Health Index, CAN chief executive Kwong Sum-yin said.

Kwong said strokes and heart disease are correlated with air pollution.

In fact, 2,196 people died of pollution-related causes last year, she said.

Local factors, rather than wind direction, played an important role in the pollution data, Kwong said.

A sharp increase in the number of vehicles on the roads in the past decade has contributed to the deteriorating air quality.

Also, she said China is not entirely to blame for pollution in Hong Kong and that the argument behind such reasoning is “not persuasive enough”.

For instance, ozone levels in Guangdong province grew 19.5 percent in the eight years to 2014 while those in Hong Kong spiked 27.2 percent, CAN said.

In the four years to 2014, the comparable increases were 6.1 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively.

CAN said the government should do more to improve transport planning, such as setting up more pedestrian zones, to improve air quality.

It also called for tighter nitrogen dioxide emission standards and stricter compliance with World Health Organization limits on respirable suspended particulates.

CAN warned Hong Kong could be a smog city like Beijing if the situation does not improve.

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BT/AC/RA

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