Date
22 October 2017
The Environmental Protection Department's air quality monitor in Central is several meters above the ground. Photo: aqhi.gov.hk
The Environmental Protection Department's air quality monitor in Central is several meters above the ground. Photo: aqhi.gov.hk

HK air quality may be worse than official index shows

Hong Kong’s air quality may be worse than the Environmental Protection Department’s index suggests, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.

The concentration of PM2.5 — fine particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter — in the air is 30-60 percent higher than the figure published by the EPD, the newspaper said, citing a new study.

The Institute for the Environment at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and think tank Civic Exchange started to collect PM2.5 data in March last year.

They set up a monitor in a tram travelling from Western Market in Sheung Wan to Pedder Street in Central from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

It recorded an average concentration of 41 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter at 8 a.m., while EPD data showed just 27 micrograms per cubic meter.

The concentration of PM2.5 rose to 51 micrograms per cubic meter at around 7 p.m., the HKUST data showed, compared with the EPD’s 32.5 micrograms per cubic meter.

Adrien Chan, an environmental affairs officer at Friends of the Earth, was quoted as saying that the monitor set up by the EPD in Central was located at the Pedder Street crossing, where air circulation is much better and pollutants could easily be blown away. That partly contributed to a lower concentration of PM2.5.

Furthermore, Chan said, the monitor was five meters above the ground, which also affects the accuracy of the measurement.

He called for the government to also use mobile monitors.

The EPD responded by saying that the monitors set up at Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok can fully reflect the air quality in the city.

It said the data collected is enough to help the government take effective measures to improve air quality.

The EPD said it has no immediate plans to increase the number of monitors on the roads.

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