Has air quality really improved according to the new PRD Report?
The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Department of Environmental Protection of Guangdong Province released the 2014 Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Report today. The Report showed that the average annual concentrations of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and respirable suspended particulates in the region have decreased by 66%, 20% and 24% respectively compared to 2006.
However, Ozone pollution deteriorates in both Guangdong and Hong Kong. According to the report, compared to 2006, the average annual concentration level of ozone in 2014 increased by 19%; whereas in Hong Kong, the level in 2014 also increased by 27% compared to 2006.
Ozone is a secondary pollutant whose source is difficult to identify. Chief Executive Officer of CAN, Ms. Kwong Sum Yin, says, “It is certainly a positive sign that the overall air quality has improved slightly in 2014. However, as Ozone level has been continuously on the rise, both governments in Hong Kong and Guangdong should investigate into the problem and devise coping measures, such as reducing VOC.”
She also added that even though there are slight improvements, the reduction is still not significant enough to meet the goal of protecting public’s health. She calls for more ambitious measures to alleviate the situation. For example, Hong Kong is mandating fuel switch when berthing from July 1 onwards. Guangdong government should also follow this example. In the long run, both governments should work closely together and set up an Emission Control Area (ECA) in the whole PRD region.