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November 3rd, 2005:

Real Pollution Index

Thursday November 3 2005

Mark Chan (‘Let public know threat by revising air pollution index’, November 1) does not need to wait for the government to publish the real Air Pollution Index.

He can find it today – hour by hour – at Clear the Air and Greenpeace decided not to wait and started publishing the truth every day beginning last November. We take raw data from the Environmental Protection Department and calculate the API based on European Union standards.
In fact, the EPD has been boldly publishing the raw data for years. However, it has been deliberately prevented from reporting the proper API. (During the early days of Sars, a couple of concerned people posted on a website the buildings where Sars cases were found, from government notices. Quite soon, everyone started using that website – and this shamed the government into publishing the data itself).

In the same way, you can now find the ‘real API’ online. Parents should make sure that their schools are aware of actual danger levels, so that educators can decide what precautions to take and how much strenuous exercise children should take. Of special concern is the fact that the government claims the Hong Kong API is based on US standards. If that is so, then why is there such a difference between the advice given to US parents and Hong Kong parents? The current US recommendations on children’s health, found on the Clear the Air website, are very different from the Hong Kong advice.

The EPD is ready, willing and able to revise the standards tomorrow – but is being prevented by instruction from the very top. It is time Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen insisted that we adopt standards that actually protect our children’s health. Until he does, find the truth at the Clear the Air and Greenpeace websites.