Hong Kong’s air quality is not likely to get better before Tropical Cyclone Barijat reaches the western coastal areas of Guangdong in the next couple of days, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) said.
Barijat, which prompted the Observatory to hoist the Strong Wind Signal, No. 3 shortly after noon on Wednesday, will skirt Hong Kong, moving more than 100 kilometers south of the city, in the afternoon.
However, the tropical cyclone is blamed for the very poor air quality in Hong Kong.
At 5 p.m. Tuesday, five of the city’s 16 air quality monitoring stations registered “10″ on the Air Quality Health Index, indicating “very high” health risk from air pollution, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The five were in Tuen Mun, Tung Chung, Sha Tin, Tai Po and the Central and Western District.
Data recorded by the five stations showed the concentration of ozone was all higher than 160 micrograms per cubic meter, which exceeded the upper limit set by the government, with that in Tuen Mun even rising above 200 micrograms per cubic meter. As of 3pm on Tuesday, Tsuen Wan also registered a “very high” health risk.
Explaining why the air quality was so poor, the EPD said that the weather in Hong Kong on Tuesday was hazy with sunny periods and a moderate northerly wind under the influence of Tropical Cyclone Barijat.
The sunshine enhanced photochemical smog activity and the formation of ozone and fine particulates, resulting in high pollution in the Pearl River Delta region, the EPD said.
The high level of ozone has resulted in the formation of nitrogen dioxide, particularly in urban areas and at the roadside.
It is expected that pollution levels will not improve until Barijat brings unsettled weather to the coastal areas of western Guangdong a few days later, the EPD said.
As such, the department advised the elderly and those with heart or respiratory illnesses to reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities to a minimum or avoid such activities.
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