Today, Clean Air Network (CAN), using rankings released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Hong Kong’s own data from 2008, revealed that Hong Kong’s number of air pollution-related deaths is the 8th worst out of 193 countries in the world. This is a higher air pollution mortality rate than China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka.
By plotting the number of deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution in 2008 against the overall population of a country in 2008, the WHO gave the air pollution mortality rate for each country. Ukraine has the highest rate, with 67 people per 100,000 dying due to outdoor air pollution. China was ranked 12th, with a rate of 35 per 100,000 people. CAN, using data from the Hedley Environmental Index (http://hedleyindex.sph.hku.hk/) found that 3,000 people in Hong Kong died from air pollution in 2008, making the city’s air pollution mortality rate 43 per 100,0000 people (refer to Table 1).
Roadside pollution in Hong Kong continues to worsen day by day, making improving the situation increasingly critical. Today, for instance, measurements from the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) showed that particulate matter concentrations (PM10) exceeded the level considered “high” (100 micrograms/cubic meter). Today’s readings in multiple stations across Hong Kong were higher than the highest readings measured at the same stations during the whole of February of last year (refer to Table 2). Furthermore, accordingly to data collected by CAN from 10 to 11 AM, today’s hourly average levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), at 69-76 micrograms/cubic meter, are the highest yet since monitoring began in January 2012. CAN strongly recommends that on days like these, the public, particularly children and the elderly, should avoid outdoor situations. The Government should act with all haste to implement the new Air Quality Objectives in order to adequately protect public health.
Note: Hong Kong’s existing Air Quality Objectives for PM10 allows a 24-hour average of 180μg/m3. On January 17th 2012, the Government announced a new standard of 100μg/m3. . This is still twice the level of the recommended 24-hour average level of PM10 (50μg/m3).