Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hong Kong Air Pollution Index

Yesterday the highest roadside API [Air Pollution Index] was 151, which is also the highest this year, followed by 147 on October 7. This level translates as 'very high" on the scale provided to the general public by the EPD (Dept. of Environmental Protection) and the HK Weather Observatory

As a general rule of thumb, a "high" API reading rates as a health hazard under the European Union or World Health Organisation standards. Immediate measures would be taken to reduce the number of cars allowed on the road on days where the index is "high" or "very high". Not in HK. Here smog has been renamed "haze". So when the weather forecasts inform us of "hazy days ahead" we should blame the monsoons, leave the camera at home, and keep jogging in Bowen Road.

The Greenpeace API - it takes the figures from the EPD air monitoring stations, and convert them in a calculation based on the World Health Organization Air Quality Objectives (AQO) - is staggeringly higher. For instance, in Causeway Bay, when the official API reads 85, "high", the Greenpeace Index reads 299! Hence, roadside pollution is HK is constantly well above levels regarded as hazardous by the WHO.

The HK government not only refuses to acknowledge the serious health threat posed by such pollution levels, it holds on to outdated air quality objectives, arguing that countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam etc. have set the same objectives.

And yet when it comes to selling us white elephants like the WKCD, 'our' governemt claims that HK is a 'world city', and needs state-of-the-art cultural facilities.

We are either a first world city or a third world one. But we are told to leave logic aside and go with the spin. First world one day, third world the next.

As to the thousands of people who die of lung cancer every year despite the fact they never smoked a cigarette, let's blame "passive smoking", surely one of their co-workers, distant cousin, or neighbour must have been a smoker.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

This is great info to know.