Information Note for
Environmental Affairs Panel
Legislative Council

A Study of Toxic Substances Pollution in Hong Kong

Terms of Reference


In the LegCo EA Panel Meeting on 11 December 1998, Members were briefed on the Administration's proposal to commission a study to address the toxic pollutants problem in Hong Kong's aquatic environment (LC Paper No. CB(1)583/98-99(02)). Members in general supported the study and requested the Administration to provide its terms of reference. This note summarizes the objectives and terms of reference of the proposed Toxic Substances Pollution Study in accordance with that request.

Terms of Reference of the Study

2. The primary objectives of the study are to identify and quantify the trade, usage, production and disposal of priority toxic substances; assess their potential environmental and health impact; evaluate risk management options and make recommendations for an effective toxic pollution control framework.

3. Specifically, the terms of reference of the study are defined as follows:

  1. To review existing information on the levels of toxic substances in the local waters, sediment and biota, and develop an initial Toxic Substances List (TSL);

  2. To identify the trade, use, potential sources of production, routes of release and fates of TSL chemicals in the receiving environment, and to develop a local toxic substances release database;

  3. To review and develop a toxicological database of chemicals on the TSL;

  4. To characterize and quantitatively assess the level of TSL chemicals in effluent discharges and surface run-offs, and in the receiving environment including the water, sediment and biota;

  5. To establish the Priority Toxic Substances List (PTSL) and to assess the toxicity of PTSL chemicals on local aquatic organisms;

  6. To carry out ecological and human health risk assessment of PTSL chemicals relevant to Hong Kong, and establish safe levels of exposure;

  7. To review, summarize and critically evaluate all relevant existing information on control and management of priority toxic substances developed in other countries, in particular the legal, socio-economic and resource implications of different management framework options for implementation of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Convention 1 and establishment of a Toxic Substances Release Inventory;

  8. To make recommendations on the formulation of an effective toxic substances control policy for Hong Kong and a management plan for its implementation including a regulatory framework for the PIC Convention, and the appropriateness and feasibility of creating a Toxic Substances Release Inventory.

Time Frame for the Study

4. The study is scheduled to commence in October 1999 for completion in January 2002.

Environmental Protection Department
May 1999

1.PIC Convention is an international Convention adopted in 1998. The Convention, jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), aims at controlling international trade (and domestic production/usage) of hazardous compounds that may cause serious environmental and public health concern. At the moment, the list of compounds subjected to PIC control consists of 22 pesticides and 5 industrial chemicals.