Guojun He, Chun Wai Cheung , Yuhang Pan; Journal of Environmental Economics and Management
- Hong Kong has among the highest per capita incomes in the world, but is also highly polluted. A significant portion of the pollution stems from the Pearl River Delta, a manufacturing hub northwest of Hong Kong.
- Using air quality, weather, population, and mortality data, this study looks at the change in air pollution and cardiorespiratory deaths from 2000-2002—before a massive SARS epidemic in 2003—and compares it to the periods from 2004-2008 and 2009-2015.
- The study finds that, on average, a 10-unit increase in the air pollution index (API) causes 1.77 percent more cardiorespiratory deaths each month, and the effect is larger among the elderly.
- The effect of air pollution on cardio-respiratory deaths dramatically declined after 2003. From 2000-2002, increased air pollution led to a 3 percent increase in cardiorespiratory deaths. It had little to no impact during the more recent periods studied.
- The researchers attribute the drop in cardio-respiratory deaths after the SARS epidemic to vast improvements in the medical system, and not to a drop in pollution itself or an increased awareness of pollution that could have led to a greater uptake of masks and air purifiers. Populations living closer to hospitals with emergency departments were less at risk of dying from pollution-induced cardio-respiratory diseases.