Three new air monitoring spots not enough
Clean Air Network: More temporary roads closure should be considered
This year, the Hong Kong Marathon introduced three sensors to monitor the air quality along the Marathon route and issued the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) of the three spots hourly from 4:30am onward. Overall, all three sensors recorded Index 4-5 (Health Risk Category:Moderate). The moderate level is likely due to the rain on the day.
CAN believes that the surprisingly mild air pollution in Western Harbour Crossing was possibly due to the weather and improved ventilation this year.
The three locations for sensor deployment include the start (TST), the split point of both full and half Marathons (Sham Shui Po to Stonecutter Island) and inside the western harbour crossing (WHC). After 4:30am, an hourly report of the AQHI will be provided (the first one will be of 3am to 4am).
Sum Yin Kwong, Chief Executive Officer of CAN, said, “We welcome the organizers’ decision to strengthen monitoring, but only three monitoring spots are not enough. There is no additional sensor along the 10km running route which is the most popular trail. Higer numbers of signage are also needed to present the index. ”
She recommends that the government should compare the data before and after road closures and based on that increase further road closure arrangements in the future. She also suggests the government implement car-free zones close to the race in order to turn it into a green event, so as to boost the international image of Hong Kong.
Note: Last year measurement results
1) For the 42-km Full Marathon – average PM2.5 concentration was 63µg/m3, which was more than 1.5 times higher than the WHO Air Quality Guideline (AQG) of 25µg/m3 for 24-hr PM2.5.
2) There are a few black spots along the route of the 42-km Full Marathon. The worse one is the Western Harbour Tunnel, with the maximum PM2.5 concentration hit 154 µg/m3 (more than 5 times of WHO standard).
3) For the 10-km Marathon – average PM2.5 concentration was 35 µg/m3, higher than the WHO 24-hr standard.
Air pollution’s health impacts
A U.S. research has shown that the amount of air inhaled and exhaled by a marathon participant equals the amount of air inhaled and exhaled in 48 hours by a sedentary person. Therefore, compared with a regular person, participants have higher breathing rates and suffer higher exposure to air pollutants.
Athletes have pulmonary ventilation rates that are 10 to 16 times higher than that of a resting person and, therefore, can potentially suffer up to 10 times the health impacts of air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and ozone. Training outdoors can lead to health consequences including lung irritation, chest pain and decreased lung capacity.