Hong Kong announces new air pollution index

Dec 06, 2013
In this file picture taken on April 15, 2013, a junk sails past the Hong Kong skyline which is shrouded in a dense blanket of toxic smog

Hong Kong on Friday announced a new air quality health index, the first in Asia to use the system, in its ongoing battle to combat air pollution.

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), introduced in Canada in 2005, will replace the city's nearly two-decades-old Air Pollution Index (API) amid growing concerns about the city's air quality and a need for more comprehensive monitoring data.

The city's leader Leung Chun-ying has pledged to make pollution one of his top priorities during his five-year term, with an official report saying it was the "greatest daily health risk" to the city's residents.

The new system, which launches on December 30, monitors the concentration levels of multiple pollutants and also the health risks associated with them by measuring hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

The index measures the combined readings of four common pollutants—sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter. In comparison the API only shows the concentration level of the highest-level pollutant.

"Under the new system, I would say that it is very competitive and very comparable to the air quality guidelines of the World Health Organization, it's a much higher standard," Andrew Lai, Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Department, told a press conference.

"You may witness more days with under the categories of high or very high," Lai said, adding that it was not because of the deteriorating air in the city, but because the measuring system is more stringent.

The government will advise residents to stay indoors if the AQHI reaches the "serious" category, the highest in a scale of one to 10, with a separate 10+ category that designates "serious" pollution.

The system will use existing ambient and roadside stations to measure pollutants in the air.

Hong Kong's authorities have plans to reduce emissions from local sources. But they admit reductions will be challenging given the city is located at the southern edge of the the Pearl River Delta, one of China's largest manufacturing centres.

The city's policies to reduce emissions include a plan to replace over 80,000 older diesel commercial vehicles between 2014 and 2019, and requiring container ships berthing in the city to use cleaner fuels, among others.

The WHO in October classified outdoor as a leading cause of cancer in humans.

Explore further: Switzerland 1st country to submit pledge for UN climate pact

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Silent killer strikes at peak hour

Nov 18, 2013

It's official - air pollution causes cancer and a QUT researcher is calling on Australian policymakers to do more to save lives.

Hong Kong to tighten power plant emission limits

Oct 19, 2012

Hong Kong on Friday announced new targets in its bid to cut emissions from power plants, part of an ongoing effort to tackle air pollution in the Chinese city that is regularly covered in smog.

Air pollution in Beijing reaches hazardous levels

Jan 12, 2013

Air pollution levels in China's notoriously dirty capital were at dangerous levels Saturday, with cloudy skies blocking out visibility and warnings issued for people to remain indoors.

Low-cost sensors gather air pollution data

Nov 26, 2013

(Phys.org) —Epidemiologists' understanding of the relationship between exposure to airborne pollutants and a range of health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and asthma, has grown increasingly ...

Recommended for you

Engineers are making strides in reducing air pollution

Feb 27, 2015

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average adult breathes 3,000 gallons of air per day—yet the same air that fuels our bodies also can harm them. In fact, inhaling certain air pollutants ...

Depth of plastic pollution in oceans revealed

Feb 27, 2015

Wind and waves can mix buoyant ocean plastics throughout the water column, but most of their mass remains at the sea surface, according to research led by The University of Western Australia.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.