Appendix B


Guidelines on Assessing the 'TOTAL' Air Quality Impacts


1.     Total Impacts - 3 Major Contributions

1.1     In evaluating the air quality impacts of a proposed project upon air sensitive receivers, contributions from three classes of emission sources depending on their distance from the site should be considered. These are: 


Primary contributions:

project induced


Secondary contributions:

pollutant-emitting activities in the immediate neighbourhood


Other contributions:

pollution not accounted for by the previous two
(Background contributions)

2.     Nature of Emissions

2.1     Primary contributions

In most cases, the project-induced emissions are fairly well defined and quite often (but not necessarily) the major contributor to local air quality impacts. Examples include those due to traffic network, building or road construction projects.

2.2     Secondary contributions

Within the immediate neighbourhood of the project site, there are usually pollutant emitting activities contributing further to local air quality impacts. For most local scale projects, any emission sources in an area within 500m radius of the project site with notable impacts should be identified and included in an air quality assessment to cover the short-range contributions. In the exceptional cases where there is one or more significant sources nearby, the study area may have to be extended or alternative estimation approach employed to ensure these impacts are reasonably accounted for.

2.3     Background contributions

The above two types of emission contributions should account for, to a great extent, the air quality impacts upon local air sensitive receivers, which are often amenable to estimation by the 'Gaussian Dispersion' type of models. However, a background air quality level should be prescribed to indicate the baseline air quality in the region of the project site, which would account for any pollution not covered by the two preceding contributions. The emission sources contributing to the background air quality would be located further afield and not easy to identify. In addition, the transport mechanism by which pollutants are carried over long distances (ranging from 1km up to tens or hundreds of kms) is rather complex and cannot be adequately estimated by the 'Gaussian' type of models.

3.     Background Air Quality - Estimation Approach

3.1     The approach

In view of the difficulties in estimating background air quality using the air quality models currently available, an alternative approach based on monitored data is suggested. The essence of this approach is to adopt the long-term (5-year) averages of the most recent monitored air quality data obtained by EPD. These background data would be reviewed yearly or biennially depending on the availability of the monitored data. The approach is a first attempt to provide a reasonable estimate of the background air quality level for use in conjunction with EIA air quality assessment to address the cumulative impacts upon a locality. This approach may be replaced or supplemented by superior modelling efforts such as that entailed in PATH (Pollutants in the Atmosphere and their Transport over Hong Kong), a comprehensive territory-wide air quality modelling system currently being developed for Hong Kong. Notwithstanding this, the present approach is based on measured data and their long term regional averages; the background values so derived should therefore be indicative of the present background air quality. In the absence of any other meaningful way to estimate a background air quality for the future, this present background estimate should also be applied to future projects as a first attempt at a comprehensive estimate until a better approach is formulated.

3.2     Categorisation

The monitored air quality data, by 'district-averaging' are further divided into three categories, viz, Urban, Industrial and Rural/New Development. The background pollutant concentrations to be adopted for a project site would depend on the geographical constituency to which the site belongs. The categorisation of these constituencies is given in Section 3.4. The monitoring stations suggested for the 'district-averaging'(arithmetic means) to derive averages for the three background air quality categories are listed as follows:

Urban:    Kwun Tong, Sham Shui Po, Tsim Sha Tsui and Central/Western
Industrial:   Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung
Rural/New Development: Sha Tin, Tai Po, Junk Bay, Hong Kong South and Yuen Long

The averaging would make use of data from the above stations wherever available. The majority of the monitoring stations are located some 20m above ground.

3.3     Background pollutant values

Based on the above approach, background values for the 3 categories have been obtained for a few major air pollutants as follows:

























All units are in micrograms per cubic metre. The above values are derived from 1992 to 1996 annual averages with the exception of ozone which represent annual average of daily hourly maximum values for year 1996.

In cases where suitable air quality monitoring data representative of the study site such as those obtained from a nearby monitoring station or on-site sampling are not available for the prescription of background air pollution levels, the above tabulated values can be adopted instead. Strictly speaking, the suggested values are only appropriate for long term assessment. However, as an interim measure and until a better approach is formulated, the same values can also be used for short term assessment. This implies that the short term background values will be somewhat under-estimated, which compensates for the fact that some of the monitoring data are inherently influenced by secondary sources because of the monitoring station location.

Indeed, if good quality on-site sampling data which cover at least one year period are available, these can be used to derive both the long term (annual) and short term (daily / hourly) background values, the latter are usually applied on an hour to hour, day to day basis.

3.4     Site categories

The categories to which the 19 geographical constituencies belong are listed as follows:




Rural/New Development


Rural/New Development



Wan Chai


Central & Western


Sai Kung

Rural/New Development

Kwun Tong


Wong Tai Sin


Kowloon City


Yau Tsim


Mong Kok 


Sham Shui Po


Kwai Tsing


Sha Tin

Rural/New Development

Tsuen Wan


Tuen Mun

Rural/New Development

Tai Po

Rural/New Development

Yuen Long

Rural/New Development


Rural/New Development






3.5 Provisions for °•double-counting°¶

The current approach is, by no means, a rigorous treatment of background air quality but aims to provide an as-realistic-as-possible approximation based on limited field data. 'Double-counting' of 'secondary contributions' may be apparent through the use of such 'monitoring-based' background data as some of the monitoring stations are of close proximity to existing emission sources. 'Primary contributions' due to a proposed project (which is yet to be realised) will not be double-counted by such an approach. In order to avoid over-estimation of background pollutant concentrations, an adjustment to the values given in section 3.3 is possible and optional by multiplying the following factor:

(1.0 - ESecondary contributions/ETerritory)

          where E stands for emission.


The significance of this factor is to eliminate the fractional contribution to background pollutant level of emissions due to 'secondary contributions' out of those from the entire territory. In most cases, this fractional contribution to background pollutant levels by the secondary contributions is minimal.

4. Conclusions

4.1     The above described approach to estimating the total air quality impacts of a proposed project, in particular the background pollutant concentrations for air quality assessment, should be adopted with immediate effect. Use of short term monitoring data to prescribe the background concentrations is no longer acceptable.

The information contained in this Appendix is only meant to assist the Applicant in performing the air quality assessment.  The Applicant must exercise professional judgement in applying this general information for the Project.