Air pollution kills people — & local economies too

hong-kong-air-pollutioneditors-blog-entry3The fact that air pollution – much of it produced by gasoline-powered cars and trucks – kills doesn’t seem to be enough to move many people to care about it, or to do something about it themselves, for instance by driving less, taking public transportation, or buying an electric car and plugging it into renewable energy.

Maybe more people will start paying attention to air pollution now that it’s threatening urban economies.

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Take Hong Kong, for instance. One of the world’s most polluted cities, Hong Kong is taking a serious look at tackling air pollution now that it appears that its unhealthy air is driving businesses away, reports USA Today.

According to USA Today, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce – which has 4,000 multinational as well as local members – has begun pushing the government to take “decisive” action to reduce air pollution in the densely populated city. In fact, a 2008 poll by the American Chamber of Commerce showed that 40 percent of companies had trouble relocating workers to Hong Kong because of employee concerns about air pollution.

Air pollution causes billions in health care costs
Add to this the massive health costs associated with air pollution in Hong Kong, which are $1.4 billion annually, according to the Hedley environmental index, a report put out by a group that tracks economic costs of air pollution in Hong Kong, and the negative economic impact of air pollution for Hong Kong is clear.

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Yes, not all of Hong Kong’s air pollution comes from automobiles, but, according to this USA Today report, a significant portion does.

And Hong Kong’s clearly not alone in terms of the health costs incurred by air pollution.

According to the American Lung Association, the health costs associated with air pollution in the U.S. are a staggering $50 billion a year.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if pointing to the human health costs – both environmental AND economic – is enough to get most people to care about air pollution. But perhaps air pollution bringing down an entire city’s or region’s economy might be.

For more information on Hong Kong’s air pollution, and what you can do to improve the air there – and everywhere, go to

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