HK's air pollution hits severe level

13:51, March 23, 2010      

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Air pollution in Hong Kong has hit a record "severe" level as the sandstorm in northern China moves southward, local environmental authority said on Monday.

Hong Kong Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau said the government has activated its response mechanism and informed concerned departments of the situation. The Education Bureau has advised schools to cancel outdoor sports activities.

Noting the poor air quality may cause health problems, Yau reminded people to monitor their health and help others who need assistance.

"People can help in alleviating the situation by using public transport, switching off idling car engines, and reducing smoking. We will also contact power companies to see if they can use cleaner fuel for electricity generation to minimize local pollution.

"We will closely monitor the change in weather conditions and air quality, and will provide the public with the most updated information."

Hong Kong Observatory Assistant Director Hilda Lam said the situation may improve as the easterly airstream which is affecting Hong Kong will weaken in the coming two days.

The Education Bureau will decide whether schools should suspend classes after assessing the overall situation and considering departmental advice.

According to the Environmental Protection Department, when the air pollution index exceeds 100, people who are sensitive to air pollution will be affected. People with such illnesses should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities, especially in areas with serious air pollution.

When the index exceeds 200, people with heart or respiratory illnesses can experience significant aggravation of their symptoms. There will also be widespread symptoms in the healthy population, including eye irritation, coughing and a sore throat. People should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities, and see a doctor if they feel unwell.

Source: Xinhua
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