Air pollution caused more than 3,000 premature deaths and monetary loss of HK $ 39,000 million last year to Hong Kong, according to a study by researchers at the University of Hong Kong.
Researchers from the School of Public Health developed an index, in 2008, to provide real-time estimates for premature deaths, medical appointments, and days spent in the hospital with illnesses linked to air pollution.
In its latest study, presented to the Legislative Council Panel of environmental affairs last Friday, they estimated that 3069 people died prematurely last year due to air pollution and 151,300 were hospitalized for diseases related to pollution.
The medical bills and the value of lost productivity as a result was HK $ 39.4 billion, according to their estimates.
Professor Anthony Hedley, who developed the index and led the study, told the panel that air pollution was the greatest threat to the sustainable health of Hong Kong, and called for more attention to the problem.
“Probably 100 percent of the population is exposed to unacceptable levels, for this environmental hazard,” he said.
Hedley said a more recent trend has been that emissions marine vessels in coastal waters, had become a major cause of illnesses and deaths linked to air pollution.
Their study also suggested that, while everyone was exposed to the pollution, the study found low-income groups in the city suffered a higher death rate than other sectors.
It was found that an increase of 10 micrograms of pollutants may pose a greater risk for people who are unemployed, have lower educational achievement and lower income than wealthier people.
Hedley compiled by analyzing its index readings Pollution Environmental Protection Bureau of Air Index (API).
He said the risk categories in the indices of government had no connection with the results of bad health and his goal was to provide a more affordable health risks related.