Visualize The Invisible Air Pollution Issues for Public
The 2-year Clean Air Neighborhood Program initiated by Clean Air Network in partnership with the Institute for the Environment of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has started in Tuen Mun since 2021. In the near future, the program will be expended to 18 districts.
Back to 2020, The Church of Christ in China Tam Lee Lai Fun Memorial Secondary School was the first “Anchor school” working with us to visualize the air pollution problem in the community. A group of senior secondary students from the school have already completed the first phase of the program. They participated in lots of engaging activities such as on-site investigation and data collection, as well as numerous workshops on problem-solving thinking. By using the 1.5 km experiential learning circle, they identified air pollution black spots and environmental health risks. Three boys among all the participants, Kwok Fong Chau, Fung Chi Ming and Ho Chun Kit, were awarded scholarships at the end of the first phase of the program for their proactiveness and creativity.
Air Pollution is not theoretical
Kwok was profoundly inspired by the program that hard-to-see air pollution could be visible indeed. He shared, “When I was first invited by teacher to join the program, I was a bit reluctant. As the program was quite long, I was worried that my time would be fully occupied by it. However, by the middle of the program, I realized that the program had a special meaning which was completely different from taking a class at school. If I read textbooks about air pollution, I probably have no deep memory. By contrast, I definitely had a deeper understanding of air pollution through experiencing and exploring. ” Kwok said. “Also, the exhibition day gave us an opportunity to present to the public with images and scientific data on the invisible air pollution problem, in order to enhance their understanding on environmental issues, especially the negative impacts to general health,” Fung added.
Dust Blowing towards the campus
Another scholarship recipient, Ho, is impressed by one of the outdoor activities which is NO2 diffusion tube installation because he could account for the environmental phenomenon in his daily life according to the findings. “ I felt that the air quality at school was poor compared to other places. Whilst I played basketball with friends at the basketball court, I sensed a speck of dust blowing towards the campus which made my breathing more difficult. After all, these were just feelings and hard-to-prove. The program demonstrated practical means to visualize the air pollution problems so that we can understand what’s going on in the polluted air and then seek solution.” He said.
After participating in the project, all of the three boys mentioned that their personal habits have changed and they have become more environmentally conscious. Ho takes public transport, such as MTR, more frequently than before because it emits less air pollutants than normal buses. In addition, they become more capable of diversified thinking to mitigate air pollution problems. In order to enhance the air quality around the neighborhood, they have several suggestions for different stakeholders in the community.
For the school campus, they propose to grow more indoor and outdoor plants and the noise barrier should be built along the highway for blocking air pollutants emitted by vehicles.
In the long run, they also suggest that the government should gradually phase out fuel cars, subsidize Hong Kong citizens to purchase electric cars, and implement the policy of zero-emission vehicles by 2030. The citizens are advised to reduce the use of gasoline cars and take public transport more often.