Hong Kong / Pollution

Photochemical Smog

Welcome to Hong Kong! An amazing harbour bustling with activity. Its backdrop of glistening skyscrapers and high rise apartments rising up to a rim of lush green as you look towards the mountain of The Peak … but not today. Today, Hong Kong is there … somewhere …. its beauty hidden by a thick white cloud of photochemical smog. There is a mist across the city. On a good day I can see out to Lantau Island and beyond and it is stunning. Today, I can barely make out a few boats hugging the shore closest to Hong Kong Island.

This is what happens when the chemical particles in the air from the manufacturing factories in the Pearl Delta north of Hong Kong linger and react with sunlight (photolysis?). I have no idea exactly what those chemicals are, but I figure they must be pretty nasty to cause this smog. There is a smell on the stagnant air outside and a roughness left in the throat when you’ve walked through it for a while. There isn’t any wind, and I am guessing the typhoon over near Taiwan is contributing to the stillness of the weather here.

As I write this, the air pollution levels at roadside are 117 in Central and 144 in Causeway Bay. The general station in Central has a reading of 82. The contributing pollutants are listed as Ozone and Nitrogen Dioxide. A reading above 100 is considered hazardous to human health. Excuse me if I don’t allow my children outside to play today, but if I wanted them to breath something like this, I would offer them a cancer-stick (cigarette).

One of the downsides to living in Asia.

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