Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 773–783 | Cite as

Long-term trends in ambient particulate matter, chemical composition, and associated health risk and mortality burden in Hong Kong (1995–2016)

  • Zhiheng Liao
  • Jiaren Sun
  • Jian Liu
  • Shu Guo
  • Shaojia FanEmail author


Hong Kong is one of the special administrative regions in China and a densely populated city with poor air quality. The impact of high pollutant concentrations, especially ambient particulate matter (PM), on human health is of major concern. This study reported the temporal trends of PM masses and chemical components and assessed the PM pollution-related health risk and mortality burden in Hong Kong over a 22-year period (1995–2016). The results showed that the ambient PM increased before 2005 and then decreased gradually with overall downward trends of − 0.61 μg m−3 year−1 for inhalable PM (PM10) and − 1.30 μg m−3 year−1 for fine PM (PM2.5). No statistically significant changes were observed for secondary inorganic components (SO42−, NO3, and NH4+), while significant decreasing trends were found for total carbon (TC) and other water-soluble irons (Na+, Cl, and K+). The long-term variabilities of the trace elements differed greatly with species. A health risk assessment revealed that the annual inhalational carcinogenic risk from As, Cd, Ni, Cr, and Pb was always lower than the accepted criterion of 10−6, whereas the total noncarcinogenic risk from As, Cd, Ni, Cr, and Mn frequently exceeded the safe level of 1. Further, a health burden assessment indicated that the annual mean number of premature mortalities attributable to PM2.5 exposure was 2918 (95% CI: 1288, 4279) cases during the period of 2001–2016. Both health risk and mortality burden presented constant reductions in recent years, confirming the health benefits of air pollution control measures and the importance of further mitigation efforts.


Ambient particulate matter Chemical composition Long-term trend Carcinogenic risk Premature mortality Hong Kong 



This study is supported by the National Key Research and Development Plan of China (Nos. 2017YFC0209606, 2016YFC0203305, and 2016YFC0206204), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41630422 and 41475140), and the Special Fund for Basic Scientific Research Business of Central Public Research Institutes (PM-zx703-201601-019).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Atmospheric SciencesSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.South China Institute of Environmental SciencesMinistry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of ChinaGuangzhouChina

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