Hong Kong Says Pearl River Air Pollutants Drop on Controls

Air pollutants in the Pearl River Delta region, home to China’s manufacturing hub, were cut last year on emission control measures and favorable weather conditions, according to a government report.

The annual concentration levels of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and suspended particulates fell from 5 percent to 25 percent in 2012 from the year before, according to a report by the environment departments from Hong Kong and China’s Guangdong province.

Emissions from Chinese factories in the region, which encompasses Shenzhen and Guangzhou, have choked residents and put pressure on the Hong Kong government to strengthen efforts to clean up the city’s air. While most pollutant levels have dropped from 2006, the level of ozone in the region was up 12.5 percent, the report showed.

“The photochemical smog pollution in the region has not yet improved,” the environmental departments said. “The Guangdong and Hong Kong governments will continue to implement emission reduction measures to further improve the air quality in the region.”

The former British colony recorded more than twice as many hours of very high roadside pollution in the first quarter compared with the year before. The Environmental Protection Department earlier this month attributed the increase to the comparative abundance of bright sunshine, which it explained was conducive to smog formation.

“The continuing improvement of regional air quality is a stark contrast to Hong Kong’s deteriorating roadside air pollution,” especially for nitrogen dioxide, said Kwong Sum-yin, chief executive officer of Clean Air Network, a non-profit advocacy group.

While nitrogen dioxide levels in the region fell by 17 percent in 2012 from 2006, the levels in Hong Kong advanced by as much as 24 percent at roadside pollution monitors, Clean Air said.

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