Press Release: Hong Kong’s Roadside Pollution Worse than EPD Roadside Monitoring Suggests

Civic Exchange today announced that roadside pollution levels measured by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s (HKUST) Mobile real-time air monitoring platform (MAP) van are substantially higher than those recorded by the Environmental Protection Department’s (EPD) roadside monitoring stations (RMS).
The results were released at "The Air We Breathe 2 – Dialogue on Road Transportation", a conference funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and organized by public policy think tank Civic Exchange. In addition to the findings from the MAP survey, the conference featured leading international speakers and commentators on urban transport solutions from Seoul, Los Angeles, Delhi, London, Germany, and Singapore, who presented solutions that may help to address Hong Kong’s roadside pollution.
There are two reasons for the higher MAP results. Firstly, the MAP van is closer to the tailpipes of polluting vehicles than the RMS (3.5 metres vs. about 5 metres above street level). Secondly, the MAP results provide average readings for a whole district and include busier and worse ventilated areas than the single RMS site in a district.
“The MAP van’s measurements are taken from a wider area, and so can supplement EPD’s information to build a bigger picture of the air we all breathe at street level – the closer you are to the tailpipe – the more concentrated the pollutant,” said Professor Chak Chan, Acting Head of HKUST’s Division of Environment.
The survey also shows that different conditions can have very different pollution levels. The heavily congested main thoroughfares, surrounded by tall buildings showed the highest levels of pollution. Hennessy Rd, Canton Rd, King’s Road, Des Voeux Rd, and Nathan Road showed especially high levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Conversely, the lower pollution levels around King’s Park and Ho Man Tin highlight the value of urban open spaces and ventilation corridors for protecting public health. They provide the opportunity for concentrations to disperse and drop to less harmful levels.
“This data shows us that, in addition to reducing emissions, we must pay much more attention to planning our city. We now have the clearest possible evidence that street canyons and open spaces play a huge role in determining different levels of pollution – even within a few blocks, “said Christine Loh, Chief Executive Officer, Civic Exchange.
The conference also provided a unique opportunity for interested members of the public to interact closely with local and international experts, and to discuss solutions for reducing the impacts of vehicular emissions on air quality in Hong Kong.
Speaking at today’s event The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Charities William Y Yiu noted that besides having a long history of supporting pressing community needs, the Club had, in recent years, increasingly turned its attention to some of Hong Kong’s longer-term challenges, with the aim of enhancing the quality of life for current and future generations. Care and concern for the environment was one of the top priorities, he observed.
Last year, The Hong Kong Jockey Club launched an Environment Project to arouse public awareness of this issue. The funding of today’s forum was one of numerous initiatives being undertaken as a part of this project.
“I am sure we will all benefit from the insights and experiences our expert speakers will share and how these could be applied to Hong Kong so as to enhance the air we breathe”, Mr Yiu said.