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June 25th, 2011:

Blue skies don’t mean clean air

SCMP letters

Chris Stubbs is living in a dream if he believes that seeing blue skies in Hong Kong, albeit very occasionally, means we are breathing clean air (“Blue-sky thinking on pollution”, June 23).

Just because he is unable to see the grey-yellow smog hugging our hills due to southerly sea breezes does not prove, as he suggests, that most of our pollution comes from the mainland.

The emissions from Hong Kong’s power stations, which continue to burn highly sulphurous coal, are now being blown north into the mainland, giving, some would argue, mainlanders a right to complain about pollution from Hong Kong.

Mr Stubbs would surely be disillusioned if he studied the Air Pollution Index (API) reports issued hourly by the Environmental Protection Department. He could see that roadside air pollution readings in Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok have remained stubbornly at dangerously toxic levels.

The real API readings should in fact be worse, and it is only because the department is dragging its feet in introducing modern standards that some people feel it is safe to breathe in Hong Kong.

It isn’t just what you can see.

Peter Crush, Sha Tin