Hong Kong chokes under worst ever air pollution

Hong Kong choked under the worst smog ever recorded in the city Thursday, with residents warned to stay indoors, away from the blanket of toxic haze, officials said.

Air pollutant readings broke records going back to 1999, except for levels reached when a natural dust storm hit the southern Chinese territory two years ago, environmental protection department spokesman Y.F. Chau said.

“This is the worst air pollution reading we’ve seen since Hong Kong started recording air pollution in 1999, except for the dust storm,” he said.

Hong Kong’s famous skyline was shrouded in a dense blanket of toxic smog and the sky looked grey, although the weather was fine and sunny.  Emissions from local vehicles using old and dirty engines are among the main contributors to Hong Kong’s air pollution, she said.

The government announced revisions to its air quality objectives for the first time in 25 years in January, after University of Hong Kong research showed pollution-related illnesses killed more than 3,000 residents a year.

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