Hong Kong Med J 2000;6:390-8 | Number 4, December 2000
Air pollution and health
MNW Chan-Yeung
Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To review the effects of air pollution on health, with special reference to data obtained locally in Hong Kong.
DATA SOURCES. Medline literature search (1960-1999), websites of the World Health Organization and Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong, and a report from the Sub-Working Group on the Review of Hong Kong's Air Quality Objectives, 1999.
STUDY SELECTION. Key words for the literature search were 'air pollution' and 'health'.
DATA EXTRACTION. The author reviewed relevant information and data.
DATA SYNTHESIS. In many parts of the world and in Hong Kong, air pollution is associated with increased mortality and morbidity rates, as reflected by increased hospital admissions and doctor visits, not only for respiratory illnesses but also for cardiovascular illnesses. Some studies have found that air pollution is also associated with an increase in respiratory symptoms in lower lung function in children. In Hong Kong, air pollution is mostly because of traffic emissions. During the past decade, the annual mean levels of respirable suspended particulates and oxides of nitrogen and ozone have increased and exceeded the air quality objectives set by the Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong.
CONCLUSION. The medical profession should be concerned about the health effects of air pollution and should call for action to reduce the current levels of air pollution to an acceptable level.
Key words: Air pollution; Environmental exposure; Health status; Lung diseases/epidemiology; Risk factors
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