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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 air pollution levels this afternoon (March 1). According to the EPD's forecast, it is expected that the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) at some monitoring stations may reach the "Serious" level.
     Hong Kong is under the influence of high concentrations of regional background ozone and particulates. The weather today is mainly fine with light winds, which is unfavourable for pollutant dispersion. The intense sunshine enhances photochemical smog activities leading to rapid formation of ozone and fine particulates in the Pearl River Delta region. The high level of ozone also promotes the formation of nitrogen dioxide.
     According to the Hong Kong Observatory, a replenishment of the northeast monsoon will reach the coast of Guangdong tomorrow morning (March 2). Winds will strengthen in the next couple of days. It is expected that air quality levels will improve by then.
     With a health risk category in the "Very High" or "Serious" levels, 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 is 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's website for appropriate measures to safeguard students' health and take note of changes in the index. The relevant hyperlink is as follows: www.edb.gov.hk/en/sch-admin/admin/about-activities/sch-activities-guidelines/index.html.

     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, March 1, 2023
Issued at HKT 18:15
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