Hong Kong think tank calls for pollution standards

In one of the world's fastest growing industrial regions, a study finding that a class of pollutants exist at levels four times that of U.S. air quality standards has prompted a Hong Kong public policy group to call for government standards on fine particulate matter. The finding was released by Civic Exchange, a non-profit public policy think tank comprised of scientists as well as representatives from the power and oil industries, government and civic organizations.

The study measured levels of fine particulate matter and ozone, a major component of smog, across Hong Kong and its northern neighbor Guangdong Province. Fine particulate matter is made up of chemical particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter. The main sources of these particles are the burning of coal for energy, emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles and the burning of other organic material such as vegetation and trash.

"By far the highest levels in the region were found in Guangdong where measurement sites showed levels of particulates as high as four times the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standard," said Michael Bergin, principal investigator for the fine particulate segment of the study and associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the class of pollutants has been proven to be harmful to human health and long-term exposure can lead to reduced lung function, chronic bronchitis and premature death.

"Sites in Hong Kong were roughly twice the U.S. standards," said Bergin. "Overall it appears to us that, with regard to particulate matter, Hong Kong air quality is being seriously impacted by Guangdong province in mainland China just to the north". By comparison, Atlanta, which has some of the highest concentrations of fine particulate matter of any city in the United States, slightly ex

Contact: David Terraso
Georgia Institute of Technology

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