Why Clean Air?

Air Pollution:
The Largest Environmental
Health Risk

Air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections. 

As the top environmental health threat, air pollution is also risking our short-term health as well as our social costs and quality of life. The Hedley Environmental Index estimates polluted air has caused an additional 130,000 hospital bed days, 2.3 million doctor visits, 1,700 premature deaths, and HK$21 billion in economic losses in one single year of 2019. 

Ar quality is also closely linked to the earth’s climate and ecosystems globally, as many of the drivers of air pollution (i.e. combustion of fossil fuels) are also sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Policies to reduce air pollution, therefore, offer a “win-win” strategy for both climate and health, lowering the burden of disease attributable to air pollution, as well as contributing to the near- and long-term mitigation of climate change.

Learn more about air pollution from World Health Organization


General perception:
There is Nothing We Can Do About It

Air pollution matters to everyone but the overall understanding of air pollution at the community level is very low.

The general public is basically not aware of what air pollution is and how bad that is to health (lack of know-what), and even those who are aware of the problem normally do not know how to address the issue (lack of know-how).

Scientific information and technologies in the past 10 years are giving us a better picture of how those major air pollutants are formed, distributed, and measured. In this campaign, we wish to mobilize Hong Kong's secondary school community, enable our students to increase awareness and understanding about this issue, and empower them to develop creative and viable ideas to shape a clean air future!

Overview of air pollution issues in Hong Kong (HK Environmental Protection Department website)


What can we do?

From citizen-science to personal behavioral changes

With the advancing technology and the increasing understanding of the issues, air pollution is no longer an unreachable topic. Below are the examples of how we could be involved in the related investigations and discussions:

Utilizing low-cost sensors

The emerging of low-cost sensors is enabling us to understand the instant and realtime air quality distribution between different specific micro-environments. HKUST-IENV would arrange Air Quality Sensors DIY Workshops and share simple ways to create your own sensors. With that we could study the air quality data and what we could do next.

Conducting chemistry analysis

Simple analytical chemistry experiments tell us the average air quality across a period of time. Such skillset and information collected will give you some good ideas about the longer-term air quality at your location, and then you could relate the data to the neighbouring environmental situations. HKUST-IENV could show schools how to set up your own on-campus "monitoring station".

Accessing air quality open data

"Data-is-Power"! HKUST-IENV could share our extensive dataset with schools who are interested in integrating air quality data in your e-platforms (e.g. web portals or mobile App) for data visualization and drawing conclusive messages.

Identifying pollution hotspots

If we combine our efforts together, we could help policy-makers to identify high-pollution and high-population (with vulnerable subgroups) locations and suggest our policy-makers to give priority resources to these pollution "hotspots".

Managing personal exposure

With nowadays big data innovation, even general public could access real-time and forecasted air quality information for planning their routines and lower personal pollution exposure. HKUST-IENV could introduce sources of useful data to protect public health on personal levels.

Supporting at-source emission reduction

Similar to climate change and many other environmental issues, at-source reduction is the most effective measures to reduce emissions. We all have a role to play in terms of  consumer lifestyle, as it ties in closely with energy consumption, transportation, and waste treatment, etc.