Legislative Council
Panel on Environmental Affairs

Toxic Pollutants Control Strategy Study


The purpose of this paper is to brief Members on the Administration's intention to commission a study to address the toxic substances pollution problem in Hong Kong's marine environment, at an estimated cost of $16.80 million (in money-of-the-day prices).


2. It is likely that toxic pollutants generated from many diverse sources are released into local waters every day. These include not only discharges from factories and sewage, but also those from diffuse sources such as surface water run-off from farmland, golf courses and roads. The toxic substances produced in specific manufacturing processes are already largely under control, but pollutants from diffuse sources still find their way into the environment. These trace toxic chemicals may pose potentially serious environmental and health problems.

3. This study was one of the commitments made in the 1998 Environment Policy Booklet issued by the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau in connection with the 1998 Policy Address. It will help us to formulate a strategy to control toxic substances that pollute our marine environment. In order to devise an effective control strategy, we need to identify the sources and fates of toxic pollutants in our marine environment and assess the potential threat any such substances may pose to aquatic life and human health. There is insufficient local information at present.

4. The study we now propose will provide us with quantitative data on the trade, usage and production of toxic pollutants and their discharges into Hong Kong waters, which are critical to the assessment of the potential threat any such substances may pose to our aquatic community and human health, and are also important for developing an effective control strategy.

Proposed Study Scope

5. The consultancy study we propose will include -

  1. a territory-wide survey to identify the trade, usage, production and disposal or discharge of toxic substances. This includes industrial, commercial and domestic applications, and agricultural pesticides and toxic organic substances from other diffuse sources;

  2. field sampling and laboratory testing to assess the levels of toxic pollutants of concern in the environment, including the water and local biota, and to trace pathways which link sources to environmental levels;

  3. evaluation of the potential ecological and human health risks from these toxic pollutants and establishment of safe levels of exposure; and

  4. making recommendations for the formulation and implementation of an effective toxic pollutants control programme to minimize the adverse impacts of toxic pollutants on human health and the environment.
A breakdown of the estimated study cost is given in the Annex.

6. The proposal will enable us to take proactive steps to safeguard the health and welfare of the local community from any potential adverse environmental or health effects associated with toxic pollutants, and enhance protection for local marine organisms, in particular dolphins and porpoises that frequent our coastal waters.

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

Advice Sought

8. Members are invited to note the Administration's intention to carry out a comprehensive study to identify the trade, usage and production of toxic substances and their discharge to local marine waters, and to formulate a specific toxic pollutants control strategy.

Environmental Protection Department
December 1998


$ million


Consultants' fees for -



Planning and supervision of survey ; data analysis and interpretation



Risk assessment



Formulation of an effective toxic pollutants control strategy



Field survey and sampling



Laboratory testing







(at June 1998 prices)


Inflation allowance 1




(in MOD prices)

1.Inflation allowance based on Composite Consumer Price Index of 2.5% as at September 1998.