Air pollution is an abiding damage-control issue for the government. Rarely is there good news to report, or credit in it for the administration. Today's report of better news about air quality is an exception of sorts. The number of days from May 1 to July 10 with low roadside air-pollution readings was the highest in nine years. Newly appointed environment secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah was quick to acknowledge an element of luck in the recent favourable weather conditions. Nonetheless, he claimed that a gradual improvement in air quality was clear to see in a sustained run of low-smog days. It is difficult to argue with his assertion that at least some of the credit is due to measures adopted by the government in the past few years, such as switching taxis and many minibuses from diesel to LPG and financial incentives to the public to switch to vehicles of lower emissions. An expert agrees that an improvement in roadside pollution sources cannot be ruled out. That should all come as a relief to a government that has declared environment issues to be a priority but remains under siege for a perceived lack of a sense of urgency in dealing with them. In truth, the latest report card on air-pollution readings was mixed. Even the best results still fell well short of recently revised World Health Organisation guidelines on air quality. The principal response to the WHO guidelines has been a consultation launched by the Council for Sustainable Development to tap public opinion on proposals ranging from upgraded bad-air alerts and countermeasures, electronic road-pricing to reduce congestion and clear the air, and community-based action to reduce the demand for electricity on bad-air days. These would be steps in the right direction, even if there is room to quibble about a timetable that may not see new air-quality objectives and an action plan for another year or two. It is hoped that some good news for a change will persuade the government to redouble its efforts to make air quality an issue of positive news more often.