Occupy My Lungs: Hong Kong air worse after protests cleared

A protester wears a gas mask on the last day of the protest camp in Admiralty on Dec. 11. (Laurel Chor/Coconuts Media)

Surprise, surprise. When you go from no cars to many cars, the air gets worse!

The Clean Air Network (CAN), a local NGO, found that air pollution levels got worse after the roads were cleared of protesters and cars were allowed to go through again. 

The NGO measured the air quality in protest areas in Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Admiralty on Oct. 1 and on Dec. 15 and 16, and found that the average PM2.5 levels rose by 42.3, 55, and 83.3 percent, respectively. 

PM2.5 levels are an indicator of how much “particulate matter” of less than 2.5 micrometres there is in the air, such as dust, soot, smoke and liquid droplets.

Because of the small size of these particles, they can become lodged deep in the lungs. Excellent!

Kwong Sum Yin, the organisation’s CEO, said that people used to seeing the pro-democracy occupation in Admiralty now find it “unnatural” to see cars on the road.

The protests have apparently “flipped people’s understanding” of the roads, making them realize that roads are not just for cars, but for people too.

CAN also said that some of the people they spoke to who were forced to walk to work were shown to be less stressed.

Ever seeing the silver lining, Kwong said: “Now, with exceptionally positive results from the unplanned ‘Pedestrianized-like-zone’, the Government cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this opportunity.”

More pedestrian areas? Yes, please! 

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CITY: HONG KONGCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH

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