Pollution more serious in western parts of HK: green group

July 14, 2017 16:01
An environmental group has sounded a fresh warning about deteriorating air quality in Hong Kong. Photo:  Clean Air Network

Western Kowloon and New Territories have seen more serious air pollution this year, with average concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exceeding the guideline value set by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to an environmental group.

The Clean Air Network said on Thursday that it compiled official air quality monitoring data during the first half of 2017, which showed that overall NO2 concentrations in Hong Kong increased year on year by 2 percent to 51 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³).

As for roadside monitoring stations, data showed the average NO2 concentrations in Causeway Bay stood at 97 µg/m³, which went up 15 percent from a year earlier and topped all the other districts, followed by Mong Kok (85 µg/m³) and Central (83 µg/m³), the green group said.

NO2 is a main air pollutant that can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The WHO sets its limit at 40 µg/m³.

The average concentration in the west side of Hong Kong was 50 µg/m³, compared to 39 µg/m³ in the east side, Apple Daily reports.

In addition, the group said it conducted field tests at five primary schools located near the West Kowloon Highway in the afternoon of June 30 and in the morning of July 6 and obtained worrisome results.

The measured NO2 concentrations were between 76 µg/m³ and 125 µg/m³, far above the WHO standards, leading to the environmental group to suggest that schools should avoid opening windows.

A member of the group pointed out that air pollution in the area could become worse if the planned Central Kowloon Route becomes a reality.

According to the Hedley Environmental Index (HEI) developed by the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health, which is used to monitor real-time economic costs of Hong Kong's air pollution in terms of human health and monetary impacts, a total of 936 people in Hong Kong died of diseases linked to air pollution in the first half of this year.

The Clean Air Network asked the Environment Bureau to install air quality monitoring roadside stations in all districts as opposed to only three at the moment, as well as to tighten the NO2 emissions, from the current 65 µg/m³ to the WHO guideline of 40 µg/m³.

It also urged the government to come up with action plans to reduce street-level air pollution.

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