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Hong Kong Smog Third Worst Since 1968

Cheung Chi-fai – SCMP – Jan 17, 2008

Guangdong was plagued last year by the worst smog in 59 years, with 27 major cities and counties reporting record numbers of smoggy days, according to the province’s meteorological bureau.

A bureau report reviewing the atmospheric state of Guangdong last year said the average number of smoggy days reported was 75.5, the highest since 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was founded.

It also revealed that some inland cities which had been relatively free of smog had started to report an increasing number of smoggy days.

In Hong Kong, smog last year was the third-worst since 1968, with the number of hours with reduced visibility reaching 1,298. December was also the worst recorded month of reduced visibility – 305 hours.

Xinhua reported that the Guangdong Meteorological Bureau said the number of smoggy days in 27 cities and counties in the province had broken previous records. The western Guangdong county of Enping suffered from the worst smog – with 240 smoggy days recorded last year. Dongguan city , where many Hong Kong factories are based, recorded 213 smoggy days.

In the northeastern city of Heyuan , once a pristine rural area and site of the province’s biggest water reserve, the number of smoggy days increased dramatically – from three days in 2005 to 182 last year.

The deterioration was believed to be a direct result of relocation of industries further inland.
The report, which reviewed the development of air pollution in the province, also found that the worst season for smog was winter rather than summer.

The worst month was December, when areas throughout the province recorded an average 11.4 days of smog. Provincial capital Guangzhou reported 22 smoggy days during that month, the highest since 2000.

Bureau atmospheric scientist Wu Dui said while use of aerosols in the Pearl River Delta had shown signs of declining in recent years, the proportion of fine particles which caused haze, low visibility and smog had increased.

Green Power chief executive Man Chi-sum said the worsening haze rang alarm bells over whether Guangdong could meet 2010 emissions reduction targets agreed with Hong Kong.

“It is a worrying trend,” he said, citing an earlier report reviewing the progress of emissions curbs which said the region’s emissions had increased, not decreased, since 2002.

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