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Health risk category for Air Quality Health Index may reach "Serious" Level
     The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has recorded higher than normal pollution levels. At 11am today (January 17), the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) at a roadside station reached 10, corresponding to the "Very High" health risk category.

     The weather in Hong Kong today is fine but hazy with light to moderate northeasterly winds. Higher than normal levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulates have been recorded in the territory since early this morning. Hong Kong is being affected by an airstream with higher background pollutant concentrations. In addition, light wind hinders effective dispersion of air pollutants. Sunshine enhances photochemical smog activity and the formation of ozone and fine particulates, resulting in today's high pollution in the vicinity of Hong Kong. The high level of ozone has promoted the formation of nitrogen dioxide, particularly in parts of the urban areas and at the roadside. It is expected that the AQHI at some general and roadside air monitoring stations may reach "Serious" level later today.

     According to the Hong Kong Observatory, it will be cloudier with a few rain patches in the next couple of days. It is expected that pollution levels will improve.

     With a health risk category in the "Very High" range or above, children, the elderly and persons with existing heart or respiratory illnesses are advised to reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities to a minimum or avoid such activities. The general public are advised to reduce, or reduce to a minimum, outdoor physical exertion, and to reduce time staying outdoors, especially in areas with heavy traffic. As health effects of air pollutants may vary for individuals, persons who are in doubt or experience discomfort should seek advice from health-care professionals. The public may visit the Centre for Health Protection's website (www.chp.gov.hk/en/content/9/460/3557.html) for more information on health effects of air pollution and relevant health advice.

     The Education Bureau (EDB) urges all schools to visit the EDB website for appropriate measures to safeguard students' health and take note of changes in the index. The relevant hyperlink is as follows:

     When the AQHI is at the "Very High" level, employers of outdoor workers performing heavy manual work are advised to assess the risk of outdoor work and take appropriate preventive measures to protect the health of their employees such as reducing outdoor physical exertion and the time of their stay outdoors, especially in areas with heavy traffic. At the "Serious" level, employers of all outdoor workers are advised to assess the risk of outdoor work and take appropriate preventive measures to protect the health of their employees.

     Members of the public can check the current AQHI readings at the EPD's website (www.aqhi.gov.hk/en.html) or by calling the hotline 2827 8541.
Ends/Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Issued at HKT 12:15
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