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New air quality objectives under fire

Wendy Wong reports.

The Director of Audit has criticised the government’s new air quality objectives, to be introduced two years from now, saying they will not adequately protect public health. Furthermore, he pointed out that Hong Kong had never achieved the air pollution improvement goals set a quarter of a century ago, and took the Environmental Protection Department to task for its failings.

The audit report came as high levels of air pollution again hit the territory with the reading at the roadside monitoring station in Central soaring to 140.

High levels were also recorded at the other two roadside stations in Causeway Bay and Mongkok.

Earlier this year the government said the territory’s air quality objectives would be revised to more stringent levels from 2014.

But the Auditor warned that the objectives would not provide adequate protection of public health, as they were mostly set on interim targets of the World Health Organisation, rather than its strictest standards.

Very bad air days were said to have steadily worsened – rising from 74 in 2007 to 175 last year despite the Environmental Protection Department setting a performance target to keep Hong Kong’s air pollution index under 100 for a whole year.

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