Assessing air quality in Hong Kong : A proposed, revised air pollution index (API)

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2562-2569
Journal / PublicationBuilding and Environment
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


The Environment Protection Department of Hong Kong has been using an air pollution index (API) to report the status of ambient air quality since 1995. Such an index system was first developed by the USA Environmental Protection Authority. The API compares five main air pollutants, i.e. sulfur dioxide (SO2), respirable suspended particulates (RSP), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and Ozone (O3) as sub-indexes, which are calculated separately from a segmented linear function that transforms ambient pollutants concentrations into a normalized scale extending from 0 to 500. The resultant pollution level is described by the maximal value of these five sub-indexes. The limitation of this API system is that it considers only one pollutant with the maximum value at a time but reflects other pollutants concurrently. In this study, a revised air quality index (RAPI) is proposed based on the entropy function, which combines the effect of all pollutants on public health. The design of the revised index is based on database of air pollutants collected at two air quality monitoring stations in Hong Kong, i.e. a roadside station in Mong Kok and a general station in Sha Tin. Compared with the existing API, values of RAPI (calculated from data collected for API) at both stations are at higher levels and provide more information of levels of all pollutants. Therefore, RAPI should be representatively and widely used to provide the public with a better indicator of air quality. In addition, variations and oscillations of pollutants concentrations were also examined and the results show that RSP and NO2 contribute more to the overall pollution level than other components. It is suggested that more abatement strategies be focused on these pollutants to improve air quality in the future. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Air pollutants, Air pollution index (API), Air quality, Revised air pollution index (RAPI)

Citation Format(s)