Friday, 1 May 2015

Hong Kong's Polluted Air Persists

Hong Kong's air quality can go to extremes like these pictures show...
Well what do you know! Us living in Hong Kong are breathing in air that exceeds the World Health Organization's standards for over 280 days last year.

The black spots are Des Voeux Road in Central and Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay.

"The overall picture is worse than we thought," said Simon Ng Ka-wing, chief research officer at Civic Exchange, a think tank that worked with the University of Science and Technology on the research.

"Our government must make it a policy priority to improve roadside air quality in major urban street canyons."

It's interesting Civic Exchange says this when its founder Christine Loh Kung-wai is the Under Secretary for Environment...

The WHO daily air quality guideline says PM2.5 should not exceed 25 micrograms per cubic metre. But in the Hong Kong study conducted between March last year and February this year, Central and Causeway Bay exceeded the standard by almost 280 days of the year.

In districts like Western, Admiralty and most of Wan Chai, the air quality standard was surpassed by over 200 days, while it was 150 days in North Point.

Des Voeux Road in Central was the most polluted at an average of 55 micrograms per cubic metre -- far exceeding the WHO guideline of 10 and the local guideline of 35.

It was followed by Hennessy Road, between Tonnochy Road and Yee Wo Street in Causeway Bay, and King's Road in North Poing.

Professor Jimmy Fung, head of HKUST's division of environment, said areas with good ventilation and lower buildings helped disperse pollution.

He said the government should devise a long-term strategy to improve wind and air dispersion in urban street canyons through new developments and urban redevelopment opportunities, as well as policies to decrease traffic emissions.

Ng says hundreds of thousands are exposed to roadside pollution on a daily basis, and a recent University of Hong Kong study says a high PM2.5 concentration led to a higher death rate among the elderly by increasing their risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

It's shocking to find the PM2.5 levels were so high considering over two months in that study period the Occupy Movement shut down major thoroughfares and supposedly decreased air pollution... or so we thought.

In the meantime, Fung says the government should consider pedestrianization schemes and low-emission zones in locations where roadside air quality is really bad.

But will the government earnestly try to do something about this? With the task of trying to sell the electoral reform package to the people, air quality probably doesn't have as high a priority...

1 comment:

  1. not much is going to change as long as Beijing and the real estate/construction corp tycoons are deciding for this city...nothing occurs for the past 18 years and things are going to be the same until everyone gets off their chairs and use their position to effect change...