Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Hong Kong announces new air pollution index
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Dec 06, 2013

Heavy air pollution hits China's Shanghai, delaying flights
Shanghai (AFP) Dec 06, 2013 - China's commercial hub Shanghai was blanketed by dense smog Friday, delaying flights and spurring sales of face masks.

Levels of PM 2.5 -- tiny particles in the air considered particularly hazardous to health -- rose to more than 600 micrograms per cubic metre in the afternoon, Shanghai's government said on its microblog.

That is 24 times the World Health Organization's (WHO) safety guideline of 25 micrograms, and reports said it was a record since such monitoring began.

Shanghai's air quality is normally far better than that of Beijing and other major cities in the north, but environmental authorities declared the highest warning of "severe pollution", issued when the ambient PM 2.5 concentration reaches 301 or more.

"Shanghai is no longer suitable for living, air pollution is too severe!" one user commented on a microblogging service.

The smog forced the city's two airports to cancel or delay hundreds of flights on Friday, official figures showed. It also boosted sales of face masks in drug stores, state media reported.

Environmental group Greenpeace blamed the smog on emissions from coal-fired power plants in the neighbouring provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui and Shandong, it said on a verified microblogging account.

Cities across China have been hit by intense air pollution in recent years, much of it caused by emissions from coal-burning power stations, with PM 2.5 levels reaching as high as 40 times WHO limits.

China's pollution problems are blamed on rapid urbanisation, dramatic economic development and climatic factors. Pollution tends to worsen as winter approaches.

Airborne particles have been linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, and the problem has tarnished the image of Chinese cities including Beijing, which saw an almost 15 percent drop in tourist visits during the first half of this year.

China vowed in September to reduce levels of atmospheric pollutants in the capital and other major cities by as much as 25 percent to try to improve their dire air quality.

Hong Kong on Friday announced a new air quality health index, the first in Asia to use the system, in its ongoing battle to combat air pollution.

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), introduced in Canada in 2005, will replace the city's nearly two-decades-old Air Pollution Index (API) amid growing concerns about the city's air quality and a need for more comprehensive monitoring data.

The city's leader Leung Chun-ying has pledged to make pollution one of his top priorities during his five-year term, with an official report saying it was the "greatest daily health risk" to the city's residents.

The new system, which launches on December 30, monitors the concentration levels of multiple pollutants and also the health risks associated with them by measuring hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

The index measures the combined readings of four common pollutants -- sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter. In comparison the API only shows the concentration level of the highest-level pollutant.

"Under the new system, I would say that it is very competitive and very comparable to the air quality guidelines of the World Health Organization, it's a much higher standard," Andrew Lai, Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Department, told a press conference.

"You may witness more days with air quality under the categories of high or very high," Lai said, adding that it was not because of the deteriorating air in the city, but because the measuring system is more stringent.

The government will advise residents to stay indoors if the AQHI reaches the "serious" category, the highest in a scale of one to 10, with a separate 10+ category that designates "serious" pollution.

The system will use existing ambient and roadside stations to measure pollutants in the air.

Hong Kong's authorities have plans to reduce emissions from local sources. But they admit reductions will be challenging given the city is located at the southern edge of the the Pearl River Delta, one of China's largest manufacturing centres.

The city's policies to reduce emissions include a plan to replace over 80,000 older diesel commercial vehicles between 2014 and 2019, and requiring container ships berthing in the city to use cleaner fuels, among others.

The WHO in October classified outdoor air pollution as a leading cause of cancer in humans.


Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

UCSB researcher shows microplastic transfers chemicals, impacting health
Santa Barbara CA (SPX) Dec 03, 2013
With global production of plastic exceeding 280 metric tons every year, a fair amount of the stuff is bound to make its way to the natural environment. However, until now researchers haven't known whether ingested plastic transfers chemical additives or pollutants to wildlife. A new study conducted by UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) shows th ... read more

Millions of lives at risk as governments fail to adopt disaster warning system

Late treatment for many Philippine typhoon victims: WHO

Human trafficking a worry in post-typhoon Philippines: US

China graft investigation into ex-head of quake city

Cloud firm Box raises $100 mn

Laser Communication Mission Targets 2017 Launch

New Effect Couples Electricity and Magnetism in Materials

Satellite Cooling System Breakthrough Developed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems

Scripps Leads First Global Snapshot of Key Coral Reef Fishes

Silent stalkers of dark ocean waters

Rising Ocean Acidification Leads to Anxiety in Fish

Sea-level rise to drive coastal flooding, regardless of changes in hurricane activity

Antarctic fjords are climate-sensitive hotspots of diversity in a rapidly warming region

Rainfall to blame for decline in Arctic peregrines

Glaciers sizzle as they disappear into warmer water

Subarctic lakes are drying up at a rate not seen in 200 years

How onions recognize when to bulb

Benefit of bees even bigger than thought: food study

Romania sees opportunity in China's new taste for meat

Flower Power - Researchers breed new varieties of chamomile

Slippery clay intensified Japan 2011 tsunami-quake: scientists

Malaysia floods force more evacuations as 1 more dead

One dead, 19,000 evacuated in Malaysia floods

NASA's HS3 Hurricane Mission Called it a Wrap for 2013

US praises French 'leadership' in C. Africa conflict

France tells Africa to take charge of security

France looks to recast Africa role at summit

Mali defence minister vows to support coup leader's trial

Evidence of funerary meal found at 13,000-year-old gravesite in Israel

Skull find shows women were sacrificed in ancient China

Study suggests inbreeding shaped course of early human evolution

Investments in Aging Biology Research will Pay Longevity Dividend

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement