Posted by: Sam Olsen | January 10, 2012

Quality Air

I’m still ailing. Back to docs on Friday, more antibiotics at vast expense. I have since been advised by some old-timers that I should take the prescription and go to “Fanda shop, next to where all the Philippinas hang out on a Sunday” and get whatever I need over the counter at knock-down prices. Fresh from China no doubt. Anyway, the drugs don’t seem to be working whether legit or not. So, it’s back to see a different doc this afternoon. I went in to work yesterday but gave up by lunchtime and headed home again. Bit fed up now. But this pneumonia, part of a class of Respiratory Infections that seem to plague HK-ers, has prompted me to show a keen interest in all things airborne in the news over here. 

The sky has been very fusty over the past few days; can hardly see over to Kowloon side, but when you look up HIGH you can see patches of blue with white clouds scattered about. So it isn’t just a general fog, it’s got to be pollution. Which is odd since we’d guessed that by now, the factories across the water would be closing ready for Chinese New Year in a couple of weeks. The local independent/alternative paper, “HK Magazine” featured a recent letter from an expat which stated that the Chief Executive refuses to accept World Health Organisation standards on the testing of air quality, despite assuring us all that the air here is ok. In Beijing, the  air quality as measured by the amount of ‘particulate matter’ has apparently IMPROVED in the past ten years. I can’t believe that, not given what we saw over there in October.

Ultimately we all have to make a call as to whether it’s a price worth paying to live over here. I know pneumonia isn’t solely caused by pollution of course, but it seems to be a contributing factor. We got Olsen junior checked out yesterday as well and fortunately he is fine, no signs of any respiratory infections there. The expat’s letter in the magazine I mentioned referred to the fact that a lot of the concern over air quality surrounds tourism and the fate of expat families, bankers and lawyers. But we’re not really the ones that suffer; if we don’t like it anymore, we go to Singapore, or even back home. For the millions of little local kiddies, that’s not an option, and as with many instances in HK, the concerns of big business and big bucks seem to be coming first.  Whether or not HK can do anything singlehandedly about this pollution, since so much of it apparently comes from China mainland, is another problem. 

In the meantime, I look forward to our holiday starting this weekend, and some fresh air in less industrious parts of the world! 

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