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POLLUTION IN HK- Have you had enough??!!

  1. #9
    woodk6 is offline Registered User
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    I mentioned most everything in the other pollution thread but here's a little bit more...

    We arrived in HK in 2003, not by our own choice but because my husband's firm transferred him out here. We are from Southern California and obviously the pollution here is much, much worse in HK than San Diego. We spend about half the year in HK and half in CA thankfully. So I feel better about my daughter getting clean air at least half the year otherwise I'd force my husband to transfer to Singapore, which is an option for us. We like HK better and it's closer to home. Anyway, it seemed that when we got here in 2003, the pollution wasn't nearly as bad. Meaning, I knew that some days it was there but it didn't bother my husband or me at the time and I don't remember thinking it would be a reason to leave. Kind of reminded me of the same levels of pollution in Los Angeles which I'm a little bit used to. I think back then almost every time we took visitors to the peak we could more or less clearly see the harbour. Now it seems that going to the peak on most days is a waste of time.

    My husband since then has developed a cough that does disappear if we're in California. He said that most of the men in his office have the same cough. They also don't smoke other than the occasional cigar. Fortunately, my husband has an indoor walk to work now and is only outside briefly every day. I will not take my daughter outside when I look out the window and see brown in the sky.

    We will leave HK earlier than we'd planned because of the pollution and we're trying right now to figure out when that will be and where we'll go exactly. HK is very different than where we're from in So Cal and we actually enjoy going back and forth. HK is a cosmopolitan city and whereas our other house is in a laid back beach town, basically. It's nice to have both extremes. I will miss HK very much actually.

    I read an article in either the Los Angeles times or the SCMP that mentioned that breathing the air in HK (and other major cities) was like smoking "x" number of cigarettes a day. I can't remember the number was in HK but it was very alarming. Maybe you can also talk with the Clear the Air organization here in HK and ask for some statistics.

  2. #10
    aussiegal is offline Registered User
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    Here are my feelings. Sunniefaith's theory that those of us that are unhappy with the pollution levels should have known better and shouldn't have come is unhelpful. Not all of us had a little 'look see' before we came and though we had heard about high levels of pollution I'm sure many of us would never have imagined that many days you can't see Kowloon from Central or that the pollution is often so bad that your eyes hurt and you can taste it in your throat. Many of us could never imagine pollution could get this bad in a place like Hong Kong.

    The good news is that many foreigners are already protesting the pollution in a very meaningful way - yes, by leaving the country. That will do more to get the government to wake up than anything else we can do. When you have people like myself and Woodk6 who actually WANT to stay but won't because of our babies health it's a sad and sorry state of affairs.

    Also, I wonder who's job it is to change things if it's not the government's as Sunniefaith writes?

    Personally, I believe it is the government's job to take control of the situation. They have a massive budget surplus and could easily devote a good portion of it to reducing Hong Kong created pollution. Introduce congestion taxes, allow people to drive only on certain days as they have done in Naples for more than 15 years, make it more expensive to run a car, change buses over to LPG, outlaw the use of plastic bags, outlaw the use of incandescent light bulbs in two or five years not ten.

    The answer to keeping Hong Kong an international powerhouse is not lowering tax one percent as they plan to do but improving the lifestyle of residents. That way the locals with options won't leave for greener pastures and the ex-pats won't continue to stay away or leave, as the case may be. In fact, I'm fairly certain that there aren't many cities in the world that could compete with Hong Kong in terms of lifestyle, location, opportunity if you take pollution out of the equation.

  3. #11
    chubbysan is offline Registered User
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    after reading woodk6 posting, i find it so alarming to know that breathing the air in HK was like smoking "x" number of cigarettes a day. we have been here in hong kong for a year, like aussie gal mentioned. yes, we are know the air in hk is polluted, but u will imagine the pollution to be so so so bad untill we moved here.

    I came from singapore too. and i have to disagree with sunniefaith. there are things that hk govt can do. like wat Neha has mentioned. Same thing happen when there was fire in indonesia, the haze affected singapore as well. the singapore govt take steps to assist our neighbour country in putting up the fire and hence, helping to control the haze in spore.

    Whereas to be a local or expat in hong kong, i think most of us treat hk like our home. We love this place and that y we are still staying here. If the air pollution can be minimised, wldnt it make hong kong a even better place for all of us.

  4. #12
    woodk6 is offline Registered User
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    I tried to google the article that mentioned how many cigarettes per day (didn't find it....though if it makes you feel any better I think living in Los Angeles was like 4 cigarettes per day) and I did find this interesting tidbit from the ecologist.org:

    "Pollution is a major cause of illness in Hong Kong. Every year, pollution is the cause of around 1,600 deaths (four per day), 64,200 hospital admissions (176 per day) and 6,811,960 doctor visits (18,600 per day). These serious health effects result in annual community losses of over HK$2 billion (around US$255 million) in direct health care costs and productivity losses, and HK$19 billion (around US$2.5 billion) in further costs arising from pain, suffering and personal loss."

    The entire article is interesting and is here: http://www.theecologist.org/archive_...content_id=790

  5. #13
    bekyboo44 is offline Registered User
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    This is a great start, and I hope to move forward with our idea of forming out ideas into a letter, that hopefully HK nespapers will publish....however we need more views and more names!

    I have to disagree with a lot of what sunniefaith says....some of us came to HK before the pollution was so bad...and now some of us have no home but Hong Kong, and thus have nowhere to go back to. And we aren't doing this necessarily for thse expats that can come and go as we please, but for those of us who call HK home and who are raising children here- because we have nowhere else to do so!

  6. #14
    mommy sara is offline Registered User
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    My husband is from mainland China and I'm American and we planned to come here so that our children can have the "best of both worlds". We knew what we were getting into and we have no intention of leaving until the kids are grown (right now we only have one 22 month old, so that will be awhile). We did not come for a couple of years on company assignment and we certainly didn't come here for money.

    Yes the pollution is bad here and I worry about our health. We've only been here 6 months so we have not yet had any obvious health effects except that I get headaches when I never did before.

    Yes the government should be urged to do something but we all have the power to make a direct impact. It's usually the expats (with more disposable income) that pollute far more than the average local. We tend to have bigger flats which we aircondition 24/7, have more lights and electronic "stuff", we tend to own cars or use taxis instead of public transport like buses, we do more laundry, use more harmful cleaning supplies, and create more garbage, etc, etc.

    I try to complain a "suitable" amount in hopes of fueling the winds of change, but mostly I try to reduce the pollution that I create and hope that contributes to the greater good. In the not so distant future you won't be able to run "home" to cleaner air, the haze of polution will be everywhere.

  7. #15
    elephantine is offline Registered User
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    What a great thread - thanks bekyboo for getting us thinking about what we can do about this pollution.

    I respectfully disagree with the argument that, as expats, we can't complain to the government because we came here for certain benefits and can just leave when we want to (although I appreciate the candor of this post). Even for those expats who can pack up and leave, shouldn't we be concerned as friends, colleagues and neighbors for local Hong Kongers who can't leave so easily? It is truly awful that their kids are going to grow up in this increasingly toxic environment. As expats, we came here to join a community - some for a short time and some for a long time - and IMO we thereby have a responsibility to act in HK's interests and not just our own.

    Thank you to mommy sara for suggestions on how we can do more personally to improve the environment - quite right that I can do with a lot less airconditioning that I use at the moment! But I strongly agree that we also need to pressure the government for more concerted action at a wider level. Bekyboo, the proposed mothers' petition would be a great start!

  8. #16
    bekyboo44 is offline Registered User
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    So shall I try and write something? Or bring some ideas together, and then post it to see what everyone thinks and if they would like to sign it.....or if someone else would like to write it?????
    Or edit it?

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