Heavy air pollution smothers Hong Kong, bringing high health risks and low visibility

Heavy air pollution smothers Hong Kong, bringing high health risks and low visibility

The smog has returned after Saturday's smoggy skies were cleared by Monday night's rain

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If you really have to go outside, make it quick.
Photo: K.Y. Cheng/SCMP

Yup, it's back, we're afraid. After Saturday's smoggy skies, another blanket of heavy pollution is smothering Hong Kong’s biggest business and shopping districts today.

People braving the sweltering heat also had to put up with pollution levels categorised as “very high” in Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

According to the Environmental Protection Department, as of 1pm, the air quality health index measured at roadside stations had reached 9 in Cenral, and 10 in Causeway Bay, indicating a very high health risk. The reading at the roadside stations in Mong Kok measured 10+, as did the general stations in Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Tung Chung, indicating a "serious" health risk. General stations across the city registered readings of 8-10 indicating a very high health risk.

In Causeway Bay at 1pm, the level of harmful PM2.5 particulates had reached 138 micrograms per cubic metre, nearly eight times the World Health Organisation’s safety limit of 25 and well above Hong Kong’s limit of 75. In Central, the level had reached 132.

The Environmental Protection Department advises children, the elderly and those with existing heart or respiratory illnesses to reduce outdoor activities to a minimum when the health risk is very high.

“The general public are advised to reduce, or reduce to a minimum, outdoor physical exertion, and to reduce time outdoors, especially in areas with heavy traffic,” a spokesman for the department said.

According to the Hong Kong Observatory, the pollution was brought by high pressure over the western North Pacific as well as light winds locally.

“The visibility fell to about 3,000 metres over many places,” the Observatory said in its weather report.

According to the report, it will remain hot and sunny with low visibility through the day, with one or two isolated showers in the afternoon.

It will be mainly fine and hot over the next couple of days.

As of 2pm, the Observatory recorded temperatures across the city from a low of 21 degrees Celsius on Tai Mo Shan to a high of 30 degrees in Tuen Mun, Sheung Shui and Happy Valley.

We don't often say it, but bring on the rain.

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