South China Morning Post
Pollution alert system sidelined by government takes specific health risks into account, giving the public advice on levels of physical exertion.
Pollution scientists who developed a new air quality alert system for the government that was never adopted plan to launch it themselves. They plan to launch their unofficial system as soon as they can secure a supply of raw data from the department’s roadside and general monitoring stations.
The experts say their air quality health index (AQHI), to be provided on a website as early as next month, will offer the public better, clearer and more timely advice on health risks than the present government system.
Modelled on a Canadian approach, the new index will be calculated on the risks of hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases from the sum of four air pollutants – sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter.
The current air pollution index (API), introduced in 1995 and never revised, does not take health risks into account and is based on the highest level of concentration on a given day of just one of the four pollutants.
A spokesman said the department was still studying the proposal but pledged to revamp the alert system in parallel with an upgrade of the government’s air quality objectives – the targets it sets itself for the levels of various pollutants – which is expected to be complete by 2014.
To read the full article, click here.