Air quality in the Pearl River Delta improved in recent years – GBA report

Air quality in the region improved in recent years when it comes to respirable suspended particulates but worsened in terms of ozone concentrations, a report released today (Thursday) by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network on its 2019 monitoring results indicates.

The network is a joint system established in 2005 between the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau jurisdictions for air quality monitoring network and regional air pollution reduction efforts.

The joint monitoring network includes 23 air monitoring stations located in the three regions and monitors six major air pollutants: SO2, NO2, O3, RSP, FSP and CO.

The recently released 2019 report indicated that Macau authorities introduced several air quality improvement measures to reduce pollution from mobile and stationary sources as included in its Five-Year Development Plan for 2016 and 2020.

‘Such measures include pushing forward the use of natural gas and construction of relevant facilities, upgrading the emission standards for newly-imported vehicles to Euro VI, optimising emission standards for in-use vehicles and phasing out polluting motorcycles with two-stroke engines,’ the report noted.

‘The measures also include promoting new energy vehicles, raising the standards for vehicle fuels to Euro V, requiring the installation of vapour recovery systems in petrol filling stations and implementing emission standards for large stationary sources such as sewage treatment plants, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, oil depots and power plants’.

The report indicates that overall the emission reduction measures implemented by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau in recent years have contributed to the gradual improvement of the overall air quality in the Pearl River Delta.

The joint network alleges that when compared with 2006, the average annual concentration levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2), respirable suspended particulates (RSP) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in 2019 decreased by 84 per cent, 37 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively.

‘Although the other two parameters, i.e. carbon monoxide (CO) and fine suspended particulates (FSP) were only added to the monitoring network in September 2014, their average annual concentration levels also decreased by 4 per cent and 14 per cent respectively in 2019 when compared with 2015,’ the report noted.

However, the research also showed that 2019 average annual concentration level of ozone (O3) increased by 36 per cent when compared with 2006, indicating that ‘further alleviation of regional photochemical pollution is required’

Ozone is a reactive gas that can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and airway inflammation, and can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma and respiratory problems.

The increase in the led the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau governments to plan a three-year joint study from 2021 to 2023 on the ‘Characterisation of photochemical ozone pollution in the Greater Bay Area and its regional and super-regional transportation’

Concerning efforts made by the Guangdong Province to reduce atmospheric pollution in the region, the reporter stated that in 2018 regional authorises promulgated regulations on prevention and control of atmospheric pollution implemented in its three-year action plans on pollution control and plan on safeguarding blue sky for 2018-2020.

Under the new measures new projects subject to environmental impact assessment – including steel, petrochemical and cement industries – must comply with the specific emission standards for air pollutants and ll motor vehicle petrol and diesel sold in Guangdong must comply with National VI standards.

‘Guangdong Province is also taking forward full-scale electrification of public transport, implementing comprehensive control on polluting industries and premises, introducing joint inspections on volatile organic compounds report added,’ the