February 13, 2006

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Marathons are difficult things...but when 22 runners end up in hospital thanks largely to heavy air pollution, you know there's a problem. The annual Hong Kong marathon has seen at least one man listed as critical. It is impossible to work out how many of the problems were a result of air pollution, but this year's race had double the problem cases of last year.

Yesterday's roadside air pollution reading was "very" high (as high as 142 in Causeway Bay and 136 in Central), a level that the Environmental Protection Department warns caution is required for anyone with heart of respiratory illnesses...perhaps they'll now add marathon runners.

I don't know Donald Tsang realises it yet, but the environmental and air pollution in particular are fast becoming a major issue. A nice big fat park at West Kowloon could work wonders...and cue the jokes about "Hong Kong - take your breath away".

posted by Simon on 02.13.06 at 09:20 AM in the Hong Kong category.


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I ran the 10 k yesterday, and can personally attest that the air was absolutely horrible. As soon as I passed the finish line I went into the paroxysms of a massive coughing attack. Everyone I spoke to said that the air was much worse than last year. First off, I recommend they re-schedule the marathon next year to be during Chinese New Year (maybe day 2 or 3) to take advantage of the stoppage in the factories across the border. There's not much traffic to disrupt on HK's roads then anyway.

If they don't do that (and I know they won't), I am going to start a website and will try to get runners of the 10k next year to wear a face mask (which I am sure everyone still has in their drawers from the SARS experience). It is shocking that running or even walking outside has become hazardous to one's health. It's hard to be a world city if you have to spend most of your time underground or indoors.

posted by: HK Dave on 02.13.06 at 12:34 PM [permalink]

The bad air has contributed to giving me, and dozens of others I know, a strange sort of cough that does not hurt, does not cause a fever and doe s not go away for the past four months. I feel absolutely healthy, but I ocassionally wke up with a slight rattle in my bronchial tubes. When I went to America it disappeared and I felt lively.

Coming back to Hong Kong, I feel absolutely dull.

posted by: d on 02.13.06 at 12:40 PM [permalink]

Me too D! I wheeze in the mornings, and just before I go to bed. Believe it or not, my cough got better when I went to Beijing, which is no paragon of environmental virtue, particularly when 15 million people are burning coal to keep warm.

Glad and depressed at the same time that I am not the only one.

And you thought moving to Sai Kung was going to keep you healthy...

posted by: HK Dave on 02.13.06 at 01:42 PM [permalink]

I'm concerned about the health of athletes in the upcoming Beijing Olympics as well. If the effects of the pollution in Hong Kong are felt this heavily, imagine what it will be like in Beijing.

posted by: Darin on 02.13.06 at 02:09 PM [permalink]

I suffered my first ever asthma attack at the end of yesterday's 10K. In retrospect, running was stupid: the 'haze' of pollution was obvious just looking across the street and the smell was unmistakable. HK Dave mentioned a website above... it is http://dyingtorun.blogspot.com

posted by: HKstefan on 02.13.06 at 05:48 PM [permalink]

Man, i thought Sai Kung would be good for me, indeed. Well, it has been good in only one aspect. As a single man, it is a powerful attraction to offer a wonderful weekend escape with sea views to friends of the female persuasion who enjoy my company and conversation.

But the wheezing is getting on their nerves.

posted by: d on 02.13.06 at 07:20 PM [permalink]

"A nice big fat park at West Kowloon could work wonders..."

Not to mention an even nicer, fatter park at Kai Tak!

posted by: Argleblaster on 02.14.06 at 01:19 AM [permalink]

One of the guys who went to hospital after the marathon died today.

posted by: d on 02.14.06 at 04:14 PM [permalink]

What is ironic, is that a lot of this pollution isn't even from Hong Kong, it's blown in from the mainland. Guangdong is one huge great chimney, and in the winter especially the windws blow it right over Hong Kong.

posted by: ACB on 02.16.06 at 03:47 AM [permalink]

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