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Hong Kong's dirty habits

Smog hangs over Hong Kong's skyscrapers, smothering the city's edge as a leading financial centre. Hong Kong's air quality is now among the worst in Asia. And that pollution problem is threatening the city's pro-business reputation. Business leaders say authorities haven't adequately addressed the issue, which costs close to $6 billion dollars in tangible and intangible losses each year. A quarter of businesses polled by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong say the environment is an important issue. SOUNDBITE: AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, ENVIRONMENTAL STEERING COMMITTEE GROUP LEADER, EVAN AUYANG, SAYING (English): "Now if you talk about make or break, would they make it on environment, we would say typically not. However, when people exit Hong Kong they decide; 'I can't stand it anymore,' or 'I don't want to be here anymore', the environment is typically one of the primary factors." Charity worker Suzanne Brucks moved back to Germany after two years in the city. SOUNDBITE: FORMER HONG KONG RESIDENT, SUZANNE BRUCKS, SAYING (English): "Since I've been back in Berlin I haven't had those problems. I have no respiratory problems, no coughing, no headaches, I don't feel sick and I'm absolutely certain it has to do with the, sort of, fresh air in Berlin." Roadside fumes, marine pollution, and smog from tens of thousands of factories in China's nearby industrial heartland all combine to choke Hong Kong. Regional and local incentives have been announced to address the problem. Authorities say a new pipeline will see 50 percent of local power-generating plants run on natural gas. But critics aren't convinced. Some figures suggest that between 2007 and 2010, an average of 1,200 people a year died from heart and respiratory causes, linked in part to poor air. Sarah Charlton, Reuters.

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