The information below is sourced from Greenpeace East Asia. These maps and graphs are updated every hour and show the different levels of air pollution from 15 different monitoring stations around Hong Kong. These levels are compared to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
Hong Kong’s own pollution standards are quite lax and so we recommend that if levels are exceeded by a significant margin, that you might want to refrain from heading outdoors on your hiking trip. Exerting ourselves while hiking can exacerbate pollution ailments considering that some of us may be breathing in 10 times more air than the average person.
A 2004 review of pollution studies worldwide conducted by the University of Brisbane, Australia, found that during exercise, low concentrations of pollutants caused lung damage similar to that caused by high concentrations in people not working out. Dr. Morton Lippmann, a professor of environmental medicine at the New York University School of Medicine says that “people who exercise outdoors should probably be more worried” than many are.
PM2.5 and PM10 particulates, when breathed in, cause blood and oxygen flow to decrease in the muscles which causes levels of tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, a naturally occurring protein that dissolves blood clots to fall. These are ideal conditions for a heart attack. A heart attack can start when arteries constrict and a clot forms. Without sufficient tPA, the clot is not dissolved, the artery is blocked and the heart is damaged.
Exercise is generally good so we don’t want use pollution as an excuse to cut back on exercise, but we do need to be sensible and try to cut back on exposure to these particles when pollution levels are high.