A DAILY air pollution index will be launched today in response to worsening air quality. The readings will be taken from the network of established air monitoring stations. The Environmental Protection Department releases monthly air quality statistics but, in an effort to make the information more accessible, it has decided to release daily information. Reports will record and tabulate noxious chemicals, like nitrogen dioxide, as well as the amount of breathable dust particles in the air. Green groups, legislators and the Government agree air pollution has reached critical levels. A government spokesman said the daily survey proved the commitment of officials to clean up the environment. But the spokesman admitted more work had to be done to find a solution to the problem. Independent legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai said: 'It is great that they are doing this, but the public already knows that the situation is out of hand. 'Let's hope the information that the department gathers here will finally convince their bosses that the situation is out of control. 'The Governor has stepped back on his commitment to clean up the air.' Friends of the Earth chairman, Mei Ng Fong Siu-mei, applauded the move but cautioned that without follow-up action the numbers were meaningless. A street survey conducted by the group last weekend of more than 3,000 people revealed the majority of residents were extremely concerned about the rising pollution. 'It is no good to just give the data. The Government has to have action to follow it up,' Ms Ng said. 'Stiffer penalties must be introduced for smoky vehicle offenders and the Government must push forward with its diesel-to-petrol switch.' At the present rate of decline, the Government estimates air pollution and smog will increase by 50 per cent by the end of the decade. A territory-wide study of nitrogen dioxide levels recently showed 68 per cent of heavily built-up areas exceeded the Government's own air quality objectives. Nitrogen dioxide is linked to heart problems and higher mortality rates.