Pollution in Southern China Exceeds U.S. Standards, Study Says
HONG KONG − Air pollution levels in China's industrial Pearl River Delta are two to five times higher than U.S. air quality standards, a Hong Kong think tank said on Wednesday.
In neighbouring Hong Kong, one of Asia's top finance and trade hubs, particulate levels were twice as high as U.S. standards, the study found.
Levels of fine particulates were highest in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, followed by Shenzhen and Zhongshan, which all neighbour Hong Kong, the Civic Exchange said as it released findings of a two-year environmental study of the region.
Particulates include tiny specks of road dust, soot from burning diesel fuel, fly ash and wood smoke suspended in the air. They have been linked in many studies to asthma, reduction in lung function and premature deaths.
The study blamed vehicle emissions and the burning of coal and biomass, such as wood, as the main culprits.
"This is an important finding which we hope will encourage further government consideration and review in this area, especially in the development of standards, objectives and emission reduction targets and in ongoing regional monitoring efforts," the Civic Exchange said in its report.
Hong Kong's falling air quality has become a major concern for many residents suffering from the acrid clouds of pollution that sweep across from mainland China, adding to emissions from local vehicles, factories and power plants in the densely populated city.
Air pollution in Hong Kong hit record levels in September, prompting the government to warn people with heart and respiratory problems to stay indoors.
On many days of the year now, the city is shrouded in smog and it is nearly impossible to see across its famous Victoria harbour.
Environmental groups have long lobbied governments on both sides of the border to tackle the problem but with only limited success.