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Air quality should meet strictest WHO guideline, 71pc in poll say

Amy Nip – SCMP

The government should set new air quality objectives in line with the toughest guidelines proposed by the World Health Organisation, 71 per cent of respondents to a green group’s survey said.

A survey conducted by Lingnan University for Greenpeace polled 532 people this month. Some 380 respondents, or 71.4 per cent, agreed or strongly agreed that the government should work with the most demanding guidelines regardless of cost.

The government launched a four-month public consultation on air quality objectives last Thursday and has proposed standards based on criteria sanctioned by the WHO in 2005 – 10 to 64 per cent more stringent than existing ones.

Nevertheless, the new criteria could still be too low to achieve an improvement in Hong Kong’s air quality, Greenpeace said.

The survey suggested people were unsatisfied with the quality of the air they are breathing. Some 80 per cent of respondents said they thought there was satisfactory air quality on only half the days in a year.

In contrast, Greenpeace estimated the levels of two pollutants – suspended particles and sulphur dioxide – at the Causeway Bay roadside station will fall within the new objectives proposed by the government for 84 per cent of the time.

“I don’t think any citizen would find air quality in Causeway Bay satisfactory for 80 per cent of the time,” Greenpeace member Prentice Koo Wai-muk said.

The current sulphur dioxide standard for Hong Kong is 350 micrograms per cubic metre in 24 hours. The government proposes to lower the new objective to 125mcg per cubic metre in 24 hours, while the strictest WHO guideline says it should be 20mcg.

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