Air Pollution in Hong Kong: Affection on the Public Health

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As Hong Kong is a very small city with so many people are living in, the transports, the daily life uses… all may lead to the air pollution. As we all know air pollution is not only affecting the humans but also the whole environment. In this situation, we are going to research of how the government policies work on solve this problem.

Air pollution in Hong Kong affects the health of the public, most commonly with coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and other diseases. Common air pollutants are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, suspended particulates, sulfur dioxide and lead. The average person inhaling carbon monoxide can produce dizziness and tiredness, while inhaling too much carbon monoxide can lead to blurred vision, loss of coordination, and even death. Nitrogen dioxide stimulates the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, causing allergic symptoms, and long-term exposure weakens lung function and respiratory resistance. 

Ozone stimulates the eyes, causes asthma and increases the risk of respiratory infections. Suspended particulates are a carcinogen because they are small and can be inhaled directly into the lungs, putting their health at risk. Sulfur dioxide stimulates the eyes and nose, causing the trachea to contract after inhalation, causing breathing difficulties. Lead is toxic and can damage the nervous system and kidneys when it enters the body, affects the body's blood production, and excess lead can lead to learning disabilities and impaired cognitive function in children. (Centre for health protection, 2018)

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In Hong Kong, the one of the reason that causes air pollution is electricity generation.Below is the policy of government. Government in 1997 ordered CLP Power Hong Kong Limited and the Hong Kong Electric Company cannot build the new coal-fired generating units. In 2008, government has amended the “Air Pollution Control Ordinance” by issuing a technical memo to distribute total emission limits to power plants.

The government also signed a new Scheme of Control Agreements (SCAs) with the two power companies in 2018. Under the new SCAs, the government optimizes the reward and punishment system to strengthen and encourage power companies to improve performance in all aspects of supply reliability, operational efficiency, user services, promotion of energy efficiency and energy conservation, and promotion of renewable energy development.

The other reason of air pollution is exhaust emissions from cars and vehiclesю Government eliminates commercial diesel vehicles before EU IV before the end of 2019. For newly registered diesel commercial vehicles on or after February 1, 2014 to set 15 years retirement period. Beginning in September 2014, a remote telemetry instrument is set up to detect gasoline and LPG vehicles that emit exhaust gas. Government sets up a total of 300 million dollar “Pilot Green Transport Fund” to support the transport industry to test innovative transport technologies such as electric vehicles.

Besides working on the government itself of Hong Kong, the government is also working with the Pearl River Delta region government to explore ways to reduce the discharge of ocean-going vessels in the Pearl River Delta waters, including jointly promoting the implementation of ship discharge control zones in the Pearl River Delta waters. The two regions set up the Air Pollution Control (Fuel for Vessels) regulation starting from the beginning of 2019. 

Since the Hong Kong government implement different policies to improve air pollution , mainly includes tackling roadside air pollution , reducing marine emission and cutting emissions from power plants. However, the report did not tighten the current air quality indicators. Hong Kong's air quality has not performed well, and it has been worse than neighboring Singapore and Taiwan. The environmental protection group criticized the report as not perfect enough to meet the requirements. If it is necessary to effectively improve the air quality of Hong Kong, the Government must improve its policy.

For example, the government subsidizes the trial of a new bus-selective catalytic reduction device. In addition , refer to the experience of Singapore, London, etc , expand the scope of existing franchised buses with low emission zones, Improve regional emission standards to zero-emission vehicles , promote the industry to switch to electric buses , avoid the problem of deterioration of sewage emissions due to the long service life of diesel buses. If all the buses that have turned to low-emission areas are fully electrified, sufficient to reduce up to 650 metric tons of nitrogen oxides per year, equal to the annual average emissions of private cars in Hong Kong. The public is also encouraged to reduce the use of private cars and improve the air quality of the roads in the long run. 

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