24 March 2019
Yuen Long was deemed the second worst among various Hong Kong towns in terms of air quality last year. Photo: HKEJ
Yuen Long was deemed the second worst among various Hong Kong towns in terms of air quality last year. Photo: HKEJ

Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, Tung Chung air worst in HK

Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tung Chung towns recorded the worst air quality in Hong Kong over the past year since the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) launched its Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) at the end of 2013.

Based on the AQHI data, an analysis done by environmental group Green Power shows that Tuen Mun had been exposed to air quality that was of high-to-serious risk to human health for as long as 536 hours in the past twelve months, the longest among all monitored districts, Apple Daily reported.

Yuen Long came in second with 526 hours, followed by 484 hours in Tung Chung, the report said Monday.

Before AQHI was launched, Tung Chung, Kwun Tong and Kwai Chung topped other districts with worst air quality based on EPD’s Air Pollution Index (API), but the situation has changed now.

Noting that the three towns were suffering heavier pollution than the downtown area of Hong Kong, Dr. Cheng Luk-ki, the head of scientific research and conservation at Green Power, said the blame could be attributed to construction activity at infrastructure projects.

The government has been aggressively developing the three towns, leaving residents with the fallout in terms of pollution, Cheng said. He urged authorities to make some changes in their development plans.

EPD said the main pollutant that caused high risk to health was ozone, which has seen its concentration increase by 25 percent on average among monitoring stations over the past five years in the east and western parts of Hong Kong.

It also said the three towns that are all located in the west part of New Territories are close to the Pearl River Delta and therefore are easily affected by the high ozone concentration in the area.

A spokesman said the department will seek to strengthen cooperation with its counterpart in the adjacent Guangdong province to improve air quality in the Pearl River Delta area.

Meanwhile, Green Power pointed out that its analysis on AQHI data also showed the 79-day street occupation that ended in early December had helped create cleaner air in Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok, where protesters had camped out on the streets and prevented traffic.

Dr. Cheng said the result shows that establishment of pedestrian zones or diversion of traffic is good for public health.

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