To ensure the air quality standard in Hong Kong can act according to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s standard, and protection of public health should be of the first priority

Brief introduction

Hong Kong’s Air Quality Objectives (AQO) is a statutory requirement by the Air Pollution Control Ordinance (Cap. 311). It basically states the government should act reasonably to maintain the air quality in Hong Kong and keeps all seven listed air pollutants below a particular level. Such level should be reviewed for at least once every 5 years.


  • The existing AQOs are much less stringent than the WHO’s standard – especially for sulphur dioxide, respirable suspended particulates (PM10) and fine suspended particulates (PM2.5)
  • In the Air Pollution Control Ordinance, it is stated that AQOs are set to “promote the best use” or “promote the conservation of air” in the public interest. However, the review would only be carried out under the condition of “reasonably practicable”. That means protection of public health might be outweighed by other considerations.
  • The current review practice is too slow and not all relevant stakeholders are included in the review process




  • We constantly meet with academics in university to ask for advice and learn from USA and Europe experiences on AQO review
  • We write submissions to Legislative Council and act with councilors to push forward the issues
  • We keep the issue exposed in media and community to create pressure for the government
  • We discuss with government officials in focus groups and meetings to exchange views



  • There was no such thing as AQO before 2013. CAN was among one of the batch of NGOs in HK to push for a more comprehensive system for measuring air pollution and its health impacts.
  • There was no public monitoring of PM2.5 before 2014. CAN was the first organization in HK to release monitoring, and eventually prompting government to adopt Air Quality Health Index to include the real time measurement of PM2.5


What’s next

  • Pushing the government to release progress of AQO review by March 2016
  • Pushing the government to set up an advisory committee to include all relevant stakeholders, including representatives from academia and green groups, in the process of AQO review
  • Aiming for a comprehensive study on the cost-benefit analysis for all the policy measures related to AQO
  • Lobbying the government to include “protection of public health” as the top priority in AQO review
  • Upgrading the current AQO standard to WHO’s standard for all pollutants, especially for sulphur dioxide, PM10 and PM2.5



Story posted on
10th Mar, 2016



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