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Hong Kong Drafts Law to Cut Smog-forming Pollutants
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The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) gazetted Friday a new legislation to control the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a major category of pollutants responsible for smog that reduces Hong Kong's visibility.


The new legislation, the Air Pollution Control (Volatile Organic Compounds) Regulation, bans the import and local manufacture of products whose VOC content exceeds the prescribed limits.


Products that will come under the regulation include architectural paints, printing inks, and six types of consumer goods, namely, hairsprays, air fresheners, insecticides, insect repellents, floor wax strippers and multi-purpose lubricants.


The regulation also requires emission reduction devices to be installed on certain printing machines.


"VOCs play a significant role in the formation of ozone and respirable suspended particulates," said a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department of the HKSAR government.


The HKSAR government and the Guangdong provincial government had a consensus to reduce VOCs by 55 percent by 2010, on the basis of the emissions in 1997, he said.


This new legislation is an essential step towards this goal, which will ultimately enable Hong Kong to meet its air quality objectives and help solve the smog problem, he said.


The regulation is one of the initiatives pledged in the 2006 Policy Address by HKSAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang, he said.


"We expect it can reduce about 8,000 tons of local VOC emissions. It will also bring Hong Kong to the forefront of VOC control in the world," the spokesman added.


The scheme in the current regulation was worked out after months of close co-operation between the Administration and trade representatives.


"This regulation is welcomed by many as creating a 'win-win' situation for both the environment and businesses. It shows that protecting the environment needs not be damaging to economic growth," the spokesman said.


The regulation will be tabled on Wednesday at the Legislative Council for negative vetting, after which it will be implemented in phases starting from April 1, 2007.


(Xinhua News Agency November 25, 2006)

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