• Wed
  • Apr 23, 2014
  • Updated: 7:07pm
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 November, 2013, 2:04am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 November, 2013, 2:04am

Grim report on air pollution and how it affects children's lungs

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

A new report shows alarming effects of air pollution on children's lungs. We noted some preliminary findings of the report some weeks ago, but the report produced by Dr Hung Wing-tat's team at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has now been published. Called Health Effects of Air Pollution Exposure on School Children in Hong Kong, it is based on a study of 12 schools and analyses the quality of the air that the children breathe in the classroom, in their homes and in the transport they use travelling to school. It also measures the lung function of these children, who were from Form Five and Form Six. One class from each school was surveyed.

The report says children in 10 of the 12 schools surveyed had weaker lung function than they would normally have been expected to have. Children in only two of the schools had better lung function than expected. Children in 11 of the 12 schools had asthma, which also affected as many as 25 per cent of the children in one of the classes.

It also found 13 to 59 per cent of the children in the different classes suffered from an allergic nasal condition, which was attributed to tobacco smoking at home, incense burning and mould in their homes. The lung function of children with smokers at home was about 5 per cent weaker than those who did not live with smokers.

The poor air quality in transport was particularly alarming. School buses contained concentrations of pm10 and pm2.5, carbon dioxide and total volatile organic compounds that were all well above World Health Organisation standards. Children are also exposed to pm10 that exceed WHO guidelines when they walk in the streets, take the train and travel on franchised buses.

The report makes grim reading for those concerned with the health of children in Hong Kong. When lungs are affected by pollution at a young age, they are rarely able to return to a "normal" condition.

 

A concept-driven market

The mainland's stock market investors have of late shown a penchant for pursuing "concept" stocks. This generally takes the form of scrutinising pronouncements of the central government. We saw recently that while the broader market declined, defence and surveillance-related stocks rose sharply following signs that the government intended to revamp security in the country in the face of rising threats at home and abroad.

A similar thing happened earlier this week after reports that Beijing might relax the one-child policy. Baby-related stocks such as those involved with milk powder soared, while the anti-baby sector such as companies that manufacture condoms fell.

 

HK 'top financial centre'?

Ten per cent of senior bankers in London believe that Hong Kong will be the world's leading financial centre in five years, while 3 per cent believe it already is. These were among the findings of a survey by Britain's Kinetic Partners 2014 Global Regulatory Outlook. When asked to name the leading emerging financial centre in 2018, almost half (48 per cent) of respondents named Shanghai, while just 7 per cent mentioned Dubai and Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The proportion of bankers who regarded London as the top financial centre dropped to 40 per cent from 65 per cent last year, while 49 per cent now view New York as the leading financial centre, up from 31 per cent last year.

About 40 per cent still expect New York to lead the finance world in 2018, but just 26 per cent - and only 24 per cent of the 132 chief executives questioned - think the same of London, down from 41 per cent last year.

Julian Korek, chief executive and founding member of Kinetic Partners, said: "The emergence of Shanghai as a future global financial centre is a major theme in this year's survey. As our report notes, Shanghai still faces significant challenges to attract international business and develop regulatory expertise, but it's also not alone."

He added that given that China also had financial expertise centred in Hong Kong, as well as a fast-growing, but lesser-known, financial services centre in Shenzhen, if the mainland's model proved successful, it would be copied in similar centres.

"As such, rising competition for markets such as London is only going to grow," he said.

 

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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This article is now closed to comments

Greenwash
Most 'elite' children attend private primary school in Hong Kong. I can't help but notice that the buses are very old and very dirty. The elite do not seem to care or have noticed that they are poisoning their children each morning. At least the elite are consistent - they don't seem to care about anyone's health - even that of their own family.
rpasea
Air pollution hurting children's lungs? Who cares as the elites sent their children abroad to boarding schools.
XYZ
As long as the CCP monopolises power in China, Shanghai will always be a potential financial centre.
chaz_hen
Forever full of potential. But as we see with the current Bloomberg drama, if information is not freely available and CCP politics continues, China will never have a competitive or credible worldwide financial center.

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