Monday, 6 March 2017

Hong Kong Generates own Smog

We've had many hazy days like this one in Hong Kong recently
When Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was Chief Executive of Hong Kong and people complained about the city's air quality, he used to say it was pollution blowing from across the border.

But it's naive for Hong Kong people to believe that -- the city generates its own pollution too in such a cramped space and now we finally have scientific proof.

Hong Kong and Macau air scientists have found that a rapid build-up of particulate matter in the air -- a key component of smog -- was possible, even in the absence of northerly winds that can transport pollutants from far away.

They found that on at least one particular sunny September day in Hong Kong saw a rapid rise in photochemical activity during mid afternoon where ozone and nitrogen dioxide skyrocketed along with increasing sunshine.

"It is clear that there was a rapid increase in particulate matter (PM) concentration on this day when we were not really affected by external meteorological conditions. It's not easy to argue in this case that winds were blowing PM to Hong Kong from the region," said co-author Professor Chan Chak-keung, dean of City University's school of energy and environment.

He said the most likely source of pollution came from vehicles or industrial emissions which contain nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds.

"Of course, regional sources play a role but [this research] shows that under the right conditions, PM can build up and Hong Kong can form its own photochemical smog," he said.

Photochemical smog is created when nitrogen oxides react with volatile organic compounds in the air under sunlight and leads to the formation of ozone. This hazardous pollutant facilitates the formation of tiny particles small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs and even into the bloodstream.

For the Hong Kong government to try to make the public believe the pollution comes from elsewhere is childish or in denial.

More needs to be done in terms of environmental protection when we have had so many hazy days, especially in the last few weeks.

But the government will only pay lip service and not really tackle these problems head on. It's not in its nature to deal with airy fairy issues...

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