Indoor air quality in substandard housing in Hong Kong

Pui Kwan CHEUNG, Chi Yung JIM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Sub-divided unit (SDU) provides substandard housing in Hong Kong by partitioning a small flat into several tiny units. With typical floor area of merely 9.3 m², they often lack a partitioned kitchen. About 210,000 persons (2.9 % of Hong Kong's population in) are living in 92,700 SDUs. Inserting extra partitions significantly suppress ventilation which was pushed below building standards to degrade indoor air quality (IAQ). This study monitored the concentrations of CO, CO₂, PM10, PM2.5 and VOCs in eight typical SDUs for 48 h. The mean concentrations were 367 μg/m³, 1216 mg/m³, 22 μg/m³, 14 μg/m³ and 794 μg/m³ respectively. PM10 and VOC concentrations exceeded Hong Kong IAQ objectives (excellent class) by 1.10 and 3.89 times respectively. Indoor and outdoor CO, PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations had no significant correlation. Cooking and air conditioning use notably controlled IAQ. During open-plan cooking, spread of fumes pushed maximum PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations to exceed 1000 and 500 μg/m³ respectively to threaten the health of occupants especially children. CO₂ and VOCs rapidly accumulated during AC use, reaching over 3000 mg/m³ and 2000 μg/m³ respectively. Timely interventions are needed to reduce impacts on tenant's health and provide healthy affordable housing to low-income families. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101583
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Early online dateMay 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


Cheung, P. K., & Jim, C. Y. (2019). Indoor air quality in substandard housing in Hong Kong. Sustainable Cities and Society, 48. Retrieved from


  • Substandard housing
  • Inadequate ventilation
  • Indoor air quality
  • Open-plan cooking
  • Air conditioning use
  • Health impact


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