Thursday, August 02, 2012

(BN) Hong Kong Smog Worst in 2 Years as Storm Traps Air Pollutants

Hong Kong's roadside air pollution hit the worst levels in more than two years as a typhoon approaching Taiwan brought hot weather and trapped pollutants, prompting the government to issue a health warning.

The Air Pollution Index was "severe" at the roadside- monitoring station in Central and "very high" in both Causeway Bay and Mongkok as of 7 a.m. local time, the city's Environmental Protection Department said on its website. The roadside index in Central reached 212, the highest level since March 23, 2010.

Typhoon Saola grounded flights and closed businesses in Taiwan and was moving toward China's Fujian and Zhejiang provinces this morning. Hong Kong is influenced by the outer layer of the storm as hot weather and weak winds result in higher ozone levels, trapping the pollutants in the city, the government said in a statement on its website yesterday.

"The weather conditions only exacerbate the situation," Erica Chan, campaign manager at Clean Air Network, said in a release yesterday. Vehicle exhaust fumes in the city are "the real root of this problem," she said.

The levels of fine suspended particulates reported in the 24-hour period from July 31 to August 1 surpassed the World Health Organization's recommended Air Quality Guidelines, Clean Air Network said.

The Hong Kong government advised people with respiratory or heart illnesses, the elderly and children to avoid heavy- traffic streets and reduce physical activities when the pollution indicator is at the "very high" level.

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