Questionnaire (Coverage:~160 people)
Our questionnaire in concern of heavy metal pollution in Hong Kong was released through social media to all ages. We aimed to find out how much concern Hong Kongers have regarding the heavy metal issue. As there are quite a number of news about lead water problem, we think that it is necessary to raise awareness of heavy metal problem among the society. By releasing the questionnaire, we hope that first-hand information can be received and we can have more understanding about the heavy metal issue.
Receiving over 160 responses, we are surprised by the fact that around 80% of the respondents are being aware of the heavy metal problem in Hong Kong, 85% of the respondents think that heavy metal pollution will affect their daily life. As you can see, a large proportion of the respondents use household water for drinking, cooking and taking showers. However, 62.8% of respondents do not think the procedures taken by the government can tackle the problem of heavy metal water pollution in Hong Kong. A minority of citizens will filter household water before using. Lastly, 84% of citizens are concerned about food sources being polluted.
From the data we collected, we can see that most of the people have much concern about heavy metal pollution and it will affect the food source, that's why it is worth to create a device which can benefit to the community. Knowing the problem of heavy metal, most of the respondents think that the government is not doing well enough to deal with this issue, so it is critical to create a device which can deal with the problem in an effective and efficient way. We aim that this device can provide safe water quality for household aquarium fish tank.
Hong Kong JSS team was honoured to interview different parties, for example Mr Gary Wong and manager from MoVertical Farm, specialist of vertical aquaponic system on 20 August 2018 to know more about the current situation of aquaponic farm and fishing farm in Hong Kong. The topic of the interview mainly focused on the concern of excess heavy metal in fishing farm.
Interview with MoVertical Farm
MoVertical Farm summarized the source of heavy metal. The source are from copper water piping ,electronic waste and low chances from fish food. He also claimed that it is costly to install a filter which can trap or even dissolve large amount of heavy metals, filter costs around 189 USD , so changing water is a more effective way to cope with heavy metal problem. But changing water takes time as it include getting old water out and adding new water.
Interview with shopkeepers from Goldfish Market
Most of the shopkeepers claimed that heavy metal problem must occur in water. They suggested, using bio-rings which costs around $22HKD by changing once a month is efficient in absorbing heavy metal. Also, using heavy metal precipitating agent every time after replacing the water can also deal with heavy metal problems. We gathered water samples from over 10 shops which are selling various fishes and aquarium supplies. We also gathered water samples from aquaponics systems,household fish tank and water pipes. Just two out of eleven shopkeepers show positive response towards our device,they think that the device may become a convenient method to cope with the heavy metal problem. Most of the respondents refuse to try our device due to its safety, they think that the device is still in developing stage, so they cannot have a positive outcome aftering using it. One of the respondent claimed that it is impossible to do that, so he dont prefer to try it.
Shops which provided water samples
Photos with shopkeepers
Shops in Goldfish Market
Fishes from shops
Interview with Mr Gary Wong
We were honoured to interview experts from different parties (experts of aquaponic systems and shops in Goldfish Market). From all the interviews, we were able to get information from a more professional perspective. Representative from MoVertical Farm and Mr Gary Wong said that it was crucial to check the water quality regularly, as heavy metal certainly brings harm to fishes and water quality. They also mentioned that Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department in Hong Kong will check the water quality monthly. So the water quality in Hong Kong is rather safe.
Application of MT gene
As the metallothionein gene is still in a developing stage. Mr Wong is very supportive towards the application of metallothionein gene. He advised that we can put the gene in some field which contain large amount of copper concentration.He also quoted land recultivation as an example to explain whether we can further apply our metallothionein gene. He claimed that the process of land recultivation and places near factory contain high amount of copper. He believes that the metallothionein gene will be a flawless way of treating excess copper in soil and water.
Interview with local business owner
An interview was conducted with fourteen local business owners, including four fish pond owners, six aqua farmers and four aquaponic system owners through phone call interview, in order to know what problems are related to water quality that they are facing and then we could help them precisely.
All fish pond owners claimed that they seldom replenish the water due to the quality of water is good and there are microorganisms to clean the fishes’ waste. Besides, all of the aqua-farmer seldom or never replenish the water because they have their own bio-filter and thought it is not eco-friendly.
Secondly, we have asked the owners how the bad quality of water would affect the products. Most of the owners pointed out that the balance of bacterias, microorganisms and nutrients will be slanted. Also, the root of vegetables will be damaged.
Thirdly, most of the owners said that the cost of replenishing water is around HKD$2000-3000.
Last but not least, 30% of the owners are interested and willing to have a try on our product. For those business owners that are unwilling to try our product, is mainly because they are well-endowed company and have their own bio-filter or filter system. Therefore, they do not want to try an extensive and experimental product. On the other hand, some small companies are willing to try our product because it does not require any cost.
Local business owners
After collecting the water samples from shops and households, our team tried to test the copper concentration in water by using Salifert Copper Profi test kit. The test result showed that the copper level is not very high, it is in the range of 0-0.5mg/L. It is obvious to see that the copper concentration in household is higher than that in shops. And copper appears in both shops and household water samples.
We started to wonder why the copper concentration in household is way much higher than in shops. We figured that shops in Goldfish market usually monitor their water quality in order keep fishes healthy. Moreover, when the heavy metal concentration is too high, shopkeepers will use bio-rings to absorb heavy metal. This is the reason why shops have lower copper concentration than in household.
Commercially-available copper test kit
Water Samples from shops
Hong Kong JSS