Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department plans to release an app on December 30 that will tell smartphone users the level of air pollution wherever they are.
The EPD is also replacing the obsolete air pollution index (API) with the air quality health index (AQHI), which indicates the short-term risks of different pollution levels. The AQHI measures three-hour average concentrations of four major pollutants: respirable suspended particles, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone; and spreads readings over five warning levels:
The deputy director of the EPD said: "As we are going to adopt tighter standards, residents can expect to see more days with the AQHI at high to serious levels."
While I applaud the adoption of a better index, and while the app will provide a useful service for those wishing to avoid areas with higher pollution levels, it doesn't address the root of the problem, which is weak government leadership in reducing pollutants in the first place. Where is the law requiring catalytic converters on all vehicles? Where is the clampdown on old vehicles that constantly belch black smoke? Where is the tight regulation on idling vehicles (the ban on idling is as predicted ineffective and thus is a complete joke)?
If the government continues its gutless approach to improving air quality, Hong Kong could one day end up like Beijing and Shanghai, where the smog is so thick that airports get shut down because visibility is practically non-existent.
People don't need an app to tell them pollution is off the charts when the sky is yellow and their eyes are burning.
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Big White Guy is the personal web site of Randall van der Woning, who hails from Canada but has lived in Hong Kong with his wife Mabel for the past 15 years. Randall is a photographer, photography teacher, and writer.
Seriously ... Big White Guy? The nickname was given in Canada but was shortened to BWG, because this wouldn't be the Internet if we didn't initialise everything.
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