Skip to main content Start main content

FCE Dean secures HK$44 million funding in the latest round of RGC Theme-based Research Scheme (TRS) for project on air pollution

29 Jul 2022

Sampling of ambient PM2.5 in urban Hong Kong

Air pollution is the greatest environmental health risk factor for premature deaths worldwide; among all air pollutants, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is one of the deadliest. Since PM2.5 is a cocktail of components from a mix of sources and not all components or sources are equally toxic, research on the toxic components and their associated sources responsible for PM2.5 health effects plays a key part in air quality management. 

Led by Prof. Xiang-dong Li, Dean of Faculty of Construction and Environment (FCE), Director of Research Institute for Sustainable Urban Development (RISUD), Chair Professor of Environmental Science and Technology, and Ko Jan Ming Professor in Sustainable Urban Development, the project entitled “Unravelling the Black Box between Air Pollution and Public Health for Transformative Air Quality Management” has been awarded HK$44.5 million funding by the Research Grants Council (RGC) Theme-based Research Scheme (TRS) 2022/23 (Twelfth Round). 

As the project coordinator, Prof. Li will lead a multi-disciplinary team of 10 researchers from PolyU, CityU, CUHK, HKU and HKUST. The project is expected to generate solid evidence of key PM2.5 toxic components and emission sources that contribute to the acute toxicity of PM2.5, particularly in the exacerbation of two index diseases of the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and ischemic heart disease (IHD). Furthermore, the research team will evaluate the benefits and costs of their proposed strategy of targeting the sources of PM2.5 toxic constituents against the conventional approach targeting total mass concentrations when formulating air quality management policies. Effective, practical, and economical approaches to managing air quality and public health will be recommended through this project. For example, the completion of the current project may lead to 1) a revision of the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) algorithm and the associated 'Health Advice' and 2) a review and updates of the Air Quality Objectives (AQO) in Hong Kong. The experience in Hong Kong may serve as a case model for the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and ultimately for the global society. 

In this round of TRS exercise, the RGC received 52 eligible preliminary proposals, 21 proposals were shortlisted for submission of full proposals and 12 proposals were selected for interview. Finally, the RGC supported 8 proposals. Prof. Li’s project is the only awarded project with a PolyU project coordinator this year. PolyU has been awarded five projects since the first round of TRS exercise in 2011/12, all of them led by FCE academics. The previous awarded TRS projects were led by Prof. Tao Wang of CEE (2017/18), Prof. Jin-Guang Teng of CEE (2018/19)*, Prof. Asif Usmani of BEEE (2019/20), and Prof. Jianlei Niu of BEEE (2021/22). 

* In March 2020, Prof. Tao Yu of CEE took over the role of the Project Coordinator from Prof. Jin-Guang Teng who assumed his duty as the President of PolyU in July 2019 and now serves as the Advisory Project Coordinator of the project.


Your browser is not the latest version. If you continue to browse our website, Some pages may not function properly.

You are recommended to upgrade to a newer version or switch to a different browser. A list of the web browsers that we support can be found here