Health warning issued as Hong Kong air pollution expected to hit ‘serious’ levels

airpollution-july6Health alert issued as pollution hits ‘very high’ levels in busy districts

Hong Kong was shrouded in higher-than-normal pollution yesterday as “very high” levels were recorded across some of the busiest areas of the city.

Areas such as Central and Western District, Causeway Bay, Mong Kok and Kwun Tong recorded “very high” levels of 10 at intervals throughout the day.

The Environment Protection Department warned some districts could reach “serious” levels above 10, as a continental airstream closes in on the area, affecting the coastal areas of Guangdong.

air-quality-health-indexOut of the 15 monitoring stations across the city, 11 reached the “very high” level at 6pm, according to the department’s website. These stations recorded an index between 7 and 10.

However, the environment watchdog stopped short of confirming whether the choking condition was likely to continue today, as a spokesperson said the index was only reflective of a short timeframe.

The index, introduced in 2013, is an indicator of the short-term health impact pollutants have on people.

The watchdog warned the “very high” level meant children, the elderly and people with existing heart or respiratory illnesses were advised to reduce outdoor activities to a minimum or even avoid them.

Others, the department warned, were advised to stay out of areas with heavy traffic.

When the serious level is reached, those who are particularly vulnerable are advised to avoid all outdoor exposure, especially in areas with heavy traffic.

Despite uncertainties on the index levels, the weather conditions forecast over the next couple of days are expected to be more conducive to a continued high pollution level.

Chan Yan-chun, scientific officer of the Hong Kong Observatory said the city would be influenced by a dry continental airstream. “It will bring us hot, cloudy weather with haze and isolated showers,” he said.

The environmental watchdog said the airstream was likely to enhance the formation of ozone, while a light wind would facilitate the trapping of pollutants.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Linfa is gradually approaching the southern part of Taiwan and Chan said the Observatory would keep an eye on its movement in case it affected the region.

via Health warning issued as Hong Kong air pollution expected to hit ‘serious’ levels | South China Morning Post.

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