Trying to snap a photo of your family in front of Hong Kong’s skyline? You’re better off posing in front of a poster, as some tourists are now doing, since heavy haze is blanketing the city. Following a typhoon that brought in smog and pollutants, Hong Kong’s air pollution index has been reported as “very high.”
Tourists were photographed taking pictures of each other before posters depicting clean blue skies, with Hong Kong’s skyscrapers in clear visibility. Behind the posters, in the same photos posted on popular Chinese Web portal NetEase, the city’s normally-scenic bay is a ghostly shade of grey.
The Tropical Storm Trami, which passed over Taiwan, is causing stagnant air in parts of the Pearl River region as it makes its way to southeast China. Pollutants swept in by the storm are now trapped.
“The high air pollution incident is a result of the trapping of local pollutants, in particular nitrogen dioxide, in the territory under the light wind,” said the Environmental Protection Department in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg. Conditions are particularly severe in areas with many skyscrapers.
In the first half of 2013, air pollution caused more than 1,600 premature deaths and cost the city HK$18.7 billion ($2.4 billion). Air quality standards that were adopted in 1987 have yet to be achieved, despite government subsidies, as reported by Bloomberg.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a great deal of the pollution comes from southern Chinese factories, as well as 18,000 liquefied petroleum gas-powered taxis, which collectively form one of the biggest culprits. They are largely responsible for the white haze that often blankets Hong Kong’s skies.