Advisory Council on the Environment

Air Pollution Control (Motor Vehicle Fuel)(Amendment) Regulation 1999 Reducing the Benzene Content in Unleaded Petrol


(ACE Paper 54/99)
For advice


This paper seeks Members' advice on the proposal to reduce the benzene content in unleaded petrol from 5% to not more than 1%.


2. Benzene is a carcinogen and unleaded petrol is a major source. To enhance pubic health protection, the international trend is to reduce its content in petrol.

3. Since 1 April 1999, Hong Kong has banned the supply, sale and distribution of leaded petrol. All petrol must be unleaded. Our current limit for the benzene in unleaded petrol is 5% by volume. The USA has limited the benzene content in unleaded petrol to not more than 1% and the European Union will be introducing the same benzene limit in unleaded petrol by January 2000. Such petrol can now be made commercially available in Hong Kong.

4. The ambient concentration of benzene in Hong Kong is less than 2.6 microgrammes per cubic metre which compares favourably with many other cities with concentrations ranging from 5 to 20 microgrammes per cubic metre. But further reduction in the maximum benzene level in unleaded petrol will bring Hong Kong in line with the international trend of reducing benzene emission.

Proposed Amendment

5. The Air Pollution Control (Motor Vehicle Fuel) Regulation (Cap 311, sub. leg.) has set the limit for benzene in unleaded petrol to not more than 5% by volume. We propose to introduce the Air Pollution Control (Motor Vehicle Fuel) (Amendment) Regulation 1999 at Annex to tighten the limit for benzene in unleaded petrol to not more than 1% by volume.


6. Consultation was made with the oil industry and they supported the proposal.


7. Subject to the endorsement by the Council and approval by the Legislative Council, the proposed change in benzene limit will commence on 1 April 2000.

Staff Implication

8. The proposed tightening of the benzene limit will not increase our workload on its enforcement. Additional staff are not required.

Public Reaction

9. The public in general will welcome the proposed amendment as it will help reduce the level of benzene in air.

Advice Sought

10. Members are requested to endorse the proposed Air Pollution Control (Motor Vehicle Fuel) (Amendment) Regulation.

Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
December 1999

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