Data News of the Week | Smog–Nobody can escape from the air pollution

Toxic haze that settled over much of China during the last three weeks has triggered a flight reflex among residents. Today several districts in Hong Kong experienced poor quality air on Sunday that posed a “very high” health risk.

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(Data from Hong Kong Government Air Quality Health Index, Link: http://www.aqhi.gov.hk/en.html)

As a human being, we can not survive without air.
As the air pollution, nobody can escape from it. Let us see how seriously the problem can be:

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(Photo by Bobo WEI, The view from Kownloon Tong, Hong Kong)

1.Smog from China shrouding Hong Kong poses ‘very high’ health risk

(This is a repost from South China Morning Post by Shirley Zhao, click the link to read the original:

Smog from China shrouding Hong Kong poses ‘very high’ health risk)

Several districts in Hong Kong experienced poor quality air on Sunday that posed a “very high” health risk, as a monsoon from the northeast brought the dreaded smog that has shrouded large parts of the mainland.

By 6.30pm, 11 out of 16 stations in different districts recorded Air Quality Health Index readings ranging from 7 to 10, posing high (7) to very high (8 to 10) health risks, according to the Environmental Protection Department.

The readings reached 10 in Tung Chung and Tuen Mun, 9 in Yuen Long and Tsuen Wan, 8 in Causeway Bay roadside, Central roadside, Sha Tin and Central and Western, and 7 in Kwai Chung, Tai Po, Grass Island and Mong Kok.

In Tung Chung, the level of harmful PM2.5 particulates had reached as high as 141.3 micrograms per cubic metre, almost six times the World Health Organisation’s safety limit of 25 and well above Hong Kong’s limit of 75.

At the roadside monitor in Causeway Bay, the reading hit 116.2, while in Tsuen Wan it reached 113.1.

But the World Air Quality Index, which compiles data from more than 600 cities in over 70 countries, recorded even higher pollution levels across the city, with maximum PM2.5 readings ranging from 126 to 196 yesterday.

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“Hong Kong is being affected by an airstream with higher background pollutant concentrations,” a department spokesman said. “The light wind hinders effective dispersion of air pollutants. The sunshine enhances photochemical smog activities and the formation of ozone during the daytime, resulting in high pollution in the region.”

He said pollution levels were expected to remain higher than normal until a replenishment of monsoon from the northeast was expected to bring windier and slightly cooler weather in the next few days.

Under “very high” health-risk levels, children, elderly and people with heart or respiratory illnesses are advised to reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities to a minimum. Other people are advised to avoid activities in areas with heavy traffic, as well as reduce physical exertion outdoors.

Colder weather is expected from Thursday, with temperatures expected to dip to as low as 13 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

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Meanwhile, the poor air quality was not the only concern of participants in the Streetathon community race on Sunday – 337 runners suffered injuries and seven were sent to hospital.

As of Monday morning, three women were still receiving treatment at United Christian Hospital. One, aged 36, remained in critical condition in the intensive care unit. Another, aged 30, whose condition was reported as serious on Sunday, was in a stable state. The third woman, aged 34, was also in a stable condition and remained in the medical ward.

2.China starts 2017 with strong economic data and thick smog

(This is a repost from South China Morning Post by Frank Tang, click the link to read the original:

China starts 2017 with strong economic data and thick smog)

A group of indicators measuring Chinese economic activities, the first available gauges of the US$10 trillion economy in 2017, showed expanding manufacturing and services, marking the comeback of a polluting way of growth as evidenced by a thick smog blanketing nearly half of the country.

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(Video link:航拍雾霾致高速拥堵严重 回京高速秒变“停车场”)

While China is certain to achieve its minimum 6.5 per cent economic growth target for 2016, few analysts are celebrating in light of the appalling air pollution – some of the worst ever – and a long list of economic challenges ahead for 2017, from reducing debt and excessive capacity at home to managing a delicate trade relations with the US.

3.Smog levels in Beijing off the charts

(This is a repost from South China Morning Post by Jun Mai, click the link to read the original:

Smog levels in Beijing off the charts)

Residents in Beijing kicked off the first day of the new year with smog that was off the charts.

The air quality index released by the municipal environmental protection bureau on Sunday hit 482, almost touching the 500 mark where the scale tops out, and far beyond the point deemed hazardous to health. The US embassy gives its own reading for air pollution in the capital, and said levels were well beyond 500.

More than a dozen other cities including Tianjin and others in neighbouring Hebei and Shandong provinces also saw smog return to dangerous levels.

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Posted by: Bobo Wei

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