Health risks from air pollution in parts of Hong Kong hit highest level on scale

Kathleen Magramo
·2-min read

Air pollution posed a “serious” health risk in parts of Hong Kong on Friday afternoon, with the problem expected to persist the following day, the city’s environmental department warned.

The Air Quality Health Index reached the serious level – the highest on the scale – at eight of the Environmental Protection Department’s 15 general monitoring stations, namely in Central, Southern, Kwun Tong, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan, Tung Chung, Yuen Long and Tuen Mun at 5pm.

At roadside stations in Mong Kok and Central the levels were also serious, and “very high” in Causeway Bay.

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The department said it expected pollution levels to remain higher than normal on Saturday.

All the remaining general stations recorded “very high” levels of pollution as well.

Haze covers the Victoria Harbour skyline. Photo: Dickson Lee
Haze covers the Victoria Harbour skyline. Photo: Dickson Lee

A northeast monsoon and skirt of Tropical Cyclone Atsani, situated about 710km (441 miles) east of the city, was bringing a continental airstream with high background pollution, making it difficult for pollutants to disperse, according to the department.

“The intense sunshine enhances photochemical smog activity and the formation of ozone and fine particulates in the Pearl River Delta region,” it said in a statement. “The high level of ozone has promoted the formation of nitrogen dioxide in parts of the urban areas and at the roadside.”

Air pollution health risk in Hong Kong ‘very high’, conditions predicted to persist

According to the Hong Kong Observatory, the weather locally would still be fine on Saturday. Pollution levels were expected to remain higher than normal until the wind speed strengthened.

The air quality index is based on the cumulative health risk caused by average concentrations of four air pollutants: ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter.

The index is reported on a scale of 1 to 10+, and is grouped into five ascending health risk categories: low, moderate, high, very high and serious.

When the health risk category is in the very high range or above, authorities advise children, the elderly and people with existing heart or respiratory illnesses to keep physical exertion and outdoor activities to a minimum.

At the serious level, employers are advised to assess the risk of outdoor work and take appropriate preventive measures to protect the health of their employees.

This article Health risks from air pollution in parts of Hong Kong hit highest level on scale first appeared on South China Morning Post

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