According to the World Health Organization, Hong Kong is ranked in the top 20% most polluted cities of the world. Poor air quality has become a serious health hazard to humans and the impact on human health continues to be recognized as the invisible killer. Air pollution causes 24% of stroke deaths, 25% of heart disease deaths, and 43% of lung disease and lung cancer deaths. 7 million people die from pollution every year.
Technology offers innovative ways to monitor and reduce risks and exposure, and there are some great apps. These provide an array of features including real-time air quality reports, forecasts, and location-specific information.
Here is our list of the best apps to measure air quality in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Real-Time Air Quality App: Real-time Air Quality Health Index (HK AQHI)
HK AQHI is the most common local real-time broadcasting app which provides air quality reports measured by the 13 general and 3 roadside air monitoring stations operated by the Environmental Protection Department of the Government of Hong Kong.
The app provides forecasts of health risks and pollutant concentrations of each monitoring station based on 24-hour trends specifically in Hong Kong. AQHI is reported on a scale of 1 to 10 and 10+ and grouped into five health risk categories, namely low, moderate, high, very high and serious.
Hong Kong Personalized Air Quality App: PRAISE-HK
The Personalised Real-Time Air Quality Informatics System for Exposure – Hong Kong (PRAISE-HK) is a new app that is under development by scientists from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
This app helps people manage and reduce their exposure to air pollutants by allowing people access to real-time, location-specific air pollution information. It provides personalised sensitivities assessments, recommendations for cleaner routes, personalised alerts, and forecasts to help you plan ahead. You can learn more the technical aspects here.
International Air Quality Apps: Air Visual, Plume Labs, Air Matters and Breezometer
Air Visual is an international air pollution app which provides access to a database over 10,000 locations all over the globe. This app offers one of the first 7-day air pollution forecast capabilities, making it easy to plan ahead.
Founded in 2014, Plume Labs creates smart tools to avoid air pollution anywhere in the world. The Plume Air Report App reveals pollution peaks and fresh air throughout the day and provides pollution alerts giving you the opportunity to plan ahead and around pollution. Their expanded coverage makes live and forecast air quality reports available in every city in the world.
With their portable device called Flow, you are able to map air pollution variations around you in real time, so you can find clean air during outside activities. Flow measures real-time concentrations of Nitrogen dioxide, VOC, PM2.5, and PM10: the Flow App connects you to the device and makes this information accessible.
Air Matters also provides real-time air quality index information, allergy pollen, and weather data. It has protection recommendations and forecasts as well. Furthermore, you can connect with your own air purifier at home (specifically Philips Connected Purifier or Connected Purifier-and-Humidifier Combi and the Kaiterra Laser Egg) to check the indoor air quality index, with this feature you can receive notifications when the air quality is getting worse or when they need to replace the filters.
Breezometer helps cities and businesses improve the health and quality of life for people by providing air quality data in a format as simple, intuitive, and actionable as weather data. You can create a unique user experience with wearable and mobile applications. Some features include information that is as localized as a single city block, color-coded Air Quality Heatmap, air pollution information up to 96 hours in advance, and insights for asthmatic, allergic, and pollen-sensitive people.
Recent Government Announcements to Improve Hong Kong Air Quality
In her October 2018 policy address, Carrie Lam stated that to further bring down roadside air pollutant levels the government plans to introduce new measures including tightening emission standards, phasing out diesel commercial vehicles by 2023, subsidizing franchised buses with catalytic reduction systems, reviewing the Pilot Green Transport Fund to increase wider use of green transport technologies, and encouraging the use of new energy vehicles in general. Choosing public instead of private transport and switching off appliances and lights when not in use are some easy ways to lessen your impact and help with air pollution.
Learn about pollution in Hong Kong and how it compares to the rest of the world: www.healthymatters.com.hk/air-pollution-hong-kong-basics-know/
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