Hong Kong’s air pollution hit an all-time high last week, placing residents in danger. According to the Environmental Protection Department, the pollution was caused by smog and ozone, The Standard reported.
Nearly all 16 air pollution monitoring stations — general and roadside — observed the highest possible reading on the Air Quality Health Index. “The intense sunshine enhances photochemical smog activities and the formation of ozone, resulting in high pollution in the region,” the EPD said.
The AQHI is designed to inform the public about short-term health risks of air pollution and precautionary measures to mitigate such hazards. AQHIs are reported every hour, and a score of 10+ means “serious health risks.”
In light of the recent record, the public was advised to spend less time outdoors. Vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly and those with cardiac and/or respiratory conditions must take extra caution.
Temperatures in the New Territories reached a new high for the year at 37.1 degrees Celsius, or 98.78 degrees Fahrenheit, in Ta Kwu Ling and Sheung Shui, South China Morning Post noted. This beat last month’s 35.5 degrees Celsius (95.9 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Hong Kong government sees local street-level pollution and regional smog as the greatest challenges in addressing the issue. “Diesel vehicles, particularly trucks, buses and light buses, are the main source of street-level pollution. Smog is caused by a combination of pollutants mainly from motor vehicles, industry and power plants in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta,” it said.
Earlier this year, non-government organization Clean Air Network reported more than 2,000 people who prematurely died from complications of air pollution. Breathing ozone, in particular, causes a slew of issues from coughing to chest pain. The local network advised (via Hong Kong Free Press), “In terms of reducing local ozone level, [the] Hong Kong government should put more focus on reducing NOx [mono-nitrogen oxides].”
Hong Kong also made headlines recently for receiving waves of marine refuse into its shores. Most of the waste allegedly came from mainland China.
Until then, grab an anti-pollution mask to protect yourself.