Greenpeace unmasks EDP’s fallacious “Air Pollution Index”

70% of days with Suspended Particulate exceeding WHO’s standards

Press release - 2008-09-11
Three Greenpeace members climb up the Roadside Air Pollution Index (API) Monitoring Station at Central today to denounce the Environmental Protection Department’s (EPD) inaccurate “Air Pollution Index” (API), which is measured upon an outdated standards. According to Greenpeace’s calculations with the reference to World Health Organization (WHO) measurement, the concentrations of suspended particulates have exceeded the WHO standards for 44 days in the past 2 months, despite government claims that API was “low to medium” in the stated period.

Three Greenpeace members climb up the Roadside Air Pollution Index (API) Monitoring Station at Central today to denounce the Environmental Protection Department’s (EPD) inaccurate “Air Pollution Index” (API), which is measured upon an outdated standards.

Greenpeace members go up to the top of a 3-meter high monitoring station and unfold a banner with the images of "Greenpeace's Real Air Pollution Index" and a slogan "Visit www.airtruth.org. Find out the Real Air Quality". The act is to stand against the existing API which fails to safeguard the health of Hong Kong citizens.

The "Real Air Pollution Index" was launched at the Greenpeace website since July this year. It takes hourly measurements of the concentrations of air pollutants from 14 EPD air monitoring stations and the data is compared to WHO standards.

It is found that in the past 2 months, the concentrations of suspended particulates have exceeded the WHO standards for 44 days. A further finding, at 17:00 on 21st August 2008 shows that the concentrations of suspended particulates at every stations, except Kwun Tong, went above the WHO standards, with Causeway Bay surpassed the WHO standards by 1.86 times, being the highest. ,Yet, EPD's API at that time classified air pollution level as only "medium to high" and "acute health effects are not expected".

"The API released by the Environmental Protection Department is measured according to the 'Air Quality Objectives'. However, the Objective is too loose and outdated which fails to protect the health of Hong Kong citizen," Greenpece's Campaigner Prentice Koo criticized. The "Air Quality Objectives" which was imposed in 1987 has never been reviewed since it was launched 21 years ago. Prentice added, "The government must revise the Objective according to WHO's standards."

Coal-fired power stations and vehicle exhaust emissions are the main causes of Hong Kong's suspended particulates. The pollutant affects the visibility of the city, and poses the biggest threat to human health. Respiratory suspended particulate (RSP) affects respiration, aggravates existing cardiovascular diseases and lung problems, damages pulmonary tissue. Some of the RSP are even carcinogenic. Elderly and children are especially vulnerable.

Greenpeace launches a "Real Air Pollution Index" at www.airtruth.org where the public can check any of the 14 monitoring stations to get a local reading. It updates hourly of which air pollutants have surpassed WHO's standards and by how much. The "Real Air Pollution Index" can be downloaded or uploaded to blogs and websites to acquire the most up-to-date air quality in Hong Kong.

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