Photo: EPA/Fehim Demir

Suspended particulates pollution in GBA continued decrease in 2020, ozone levels still worrying – Report

Air quality in the region has continued to improve in 2020 in terms of respirable suspended particulates but ozone levels continued at worrying levels, the most recent report by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network published today (Thursday) reveals.

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.

Accoridng to the 2020 report, when ompared with 2006, the average annual concentration levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2), respirable suspended particulates (RSP) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in 2020 decreased by 86 per cent, 49 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively.

Carbon monoxide (CO) and fine suspended particulates (FSP) were only added to the monitoring network in September 2014, with their average annual concentration levels also decreased by 16 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively, in 2020 when compared with those in 2015.

However, the network report warned that the 2020 average annual concentration level of ozone (O3) increased by 27 per cent when compared with that in 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 number of days with poor air quality reported in 2020 has decreased by some 60 per cent from the previous year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data provided by the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG) previously.

Concerning local policies to mitigate air pollution, Macau authorities were said to have rolled out a series of air quality improvement measures to reduce pollution from mobile and stationary sources respectively in accordance with relevant initiatives laid down in the local Five-Year Development Plan (2016-2020).

‘Such measures include continuously optimising and improving the emission limits and measurement methods for exhaust gases from vehicles, promoting the use of electric vehicles and continuously putting forward research on controlling and reducing volatile organic compounds,’ the report points out.

‘Macau has been monitoring the vapour recovery systems in petrol filling stations as well as continuously overseeing the implementation status of the administrative regulation for limiting the emission standards of chemical and pharmaceutical industries, power plants and oil depots, which came into force in 2020’.

The Ambient Air Quality Standard was also published to further improve the air quality and safeguard the health of the public.