Smog at 11 stations exceeds WHO limits

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 June, 2009, 12:00am

Air pollution levels remained high yesterday, with concentrations at all 11 general monitoring stations exceeding World Health Organisation guidelines, Greenpeace said.

Readings at the three roadside stations - in Causeway Bay, Central and Mong Kok - were 'very high' throughout the day, with the air pollution index hitting a high of 135 in Causeway Bay at 11am.

Among the 11 general stations, Kwai Chung fared worst at 93.

An air pollution index of over 100 indicates the pollutants pose immediate health risks, especially to people with respiratory or heart illnesses.

Between 3pm and 4pm, Greenpeace said all 11 general stations had either one or two pollutants above WHO guidelines. The three roadside stations, known for marking very high levels of pollution, also exceeded the guidelines. Respirable suspended particles and sulfur dioxide were the key pollutants.

At the same time, the Observatory recorded low wind speeds. This showed that the air pollution was produced locally, Greenpeace campaigner Prentice Woo Wai-muk said, adding that the government should no longer blame mainland sources.

He reminded people with heart disease and respiratory problems such as asthma to take preventive measures.

To improve regional air quality, the Hong Kong and Guangdong governments agreed in 2002 to reduce the emissions of four major air pollutants by 20 to 55 per cent from their 1997 levels by next year.

The government is reviewing the air quality objectives - in place since 1987 and criticised as outdated - with reference to WHO guidelines. It will issue a draft report this month.