Information Services Office   19.6.2012


Prof. Yu Tak-Sun Ignatius and Ms. Qiu Hong, PhD Candidate
Newsletter No. 400 > Campus News > Medical > Coarse Particulate Pollutants Affect Health

Coarse Particulate Pollutants Affect Health


In Hong Kong, air quality has been deteriorating over the years and presents a serious threat to the health of its citizens. It is commonly accepted that the associations between the respirable suspended particles and adverse respiratory health effects are mainly attributable to the fine particles (PM2.5 ,particles with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 μm), because of their higher number (count) concentration, larger surface area and deeper lung deposition. An epidemiological research led by Prof. Yu Tak-sun Ignatius, head, and Ms. Qiu Hong (PhD candidate) of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Health, the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at CUHK, examined emergency hospital admissions in Hong Kong between 2000 and 2005 and reported that the effects of coarse particles (PM10 ,particles with an aerodynamic diameter between 2.5 and 10 μm), should not be ignored.

CUHK’s research discovered that a 10 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air) increase of coarse particles was associated with about 1% increase of emergency hospital admissions for total respiratory diseases and 1.6% increase for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). In other words, a 10 μg/m3 increase of coarse particles led to 830 additional emergency hospital admissions for respiratory diseases per year, of which 482 admissions were due to COPD during the study period.

This study is the largest single-city study to date on the effects of coarse particles on emergency hospital admissions for respiratory diseases, involving over half a million admissions over the six-year period. The report was recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the top international journal in environmental health. CUHK also suggests the Environmental Protection Department of the HKSAR Government to take into consideration the adverse effects of PM10 when reviewing Air Quality Objectives in future.

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