By 2100,

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CRITICAL HK ISSUES -

Iwas the flu that made Jor­dan Lee Kin-fung, 10, miss an im­por­tant fi­nal-term exam. The night be­fore Nov 13 was a night­mare. Lee’s tem­per­a­ture hit 40 C and stayed there. He was ad­mit­ted to Car­i­tas Med­i­cal Cen­tre and re­mained overnight un­til the fever went down.

The boy was al­ways sick. His mother, Ms Tao, no­ticed it started af­ter she and her son moved into a cramped, un­ven­ti­lated sub­di­vided flat in Sham Shui Po five years ago. Lee has suf­fered from poor health ever since. He’s been sick more times than he can count on the fin­gers of both hands.

The hot sum­mer is the sea­son mother and son fear the most. They suf­fered through the heat of sum­mer for years, be­fore cav­ing in and turn­ing on the air-con­di­tion­ing, a lux­ury that shot their ex­penses through the ceil­ing. They hoped that the ex­pense would keep Lee healthy.

A study by Emily Chan Ying-yang of the Chi­nese Univer­sity of Hong Kong re­vealed that when the am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture rose above 28.5 C, for chil­dren aged un­der 15 in Hong Kong the risk of be­ing hos­pi­tal­ized for re­s­pi­ra­tory dis­eases rose by an av­er­age 19.5 per­cent for each in­crease in tem­per­a­ture of 1 C. That com­pared to a lower sus­cep­ti­bil­ity of only 8.2 per­cent among the ma­turer group aged 15-59.

Chan is a pi­o­neer in the field, and the first to as­sess the ca­su­al­ties wrought by warm­ing tem­per­a­tures in Hong Kong. When she ex­am­ined the city’s hos­pi­tal­iza­tion data be­tween 1998 and 2006, she made a star­tling con­nec­tion be­tween daily mean tem­per­a­ture and lethal­ity: Once the daily mean tem­per­a­ture in­creased 1 C above 28.2 C, the over­all mortality rate in­creased 1.8 per­cent on the same day, and it in­creased ex­po­nen­tially. Thus for 30.2 C, 2 C above 28.2 C, the mortality rate would in­crease by 1.8 per­cent to the power 2. At 31.2 C, 3 C higher than the thresh­old, the mortality rate height­ened by 1.8 per­cent to the power 3.

“It’s proved that ev­ery in­crease of 1 C above 28.2 C can be per­ilous to hu­man health,” said Chan, pro­fes­sor of the Jockey Club School of Pub­lic Health and Pri­mary Care at the CUHK. Chan

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