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Increasing external effects negate local efforts to control ozone air pollution: a case study of Hong Kong and implications for other Chinese cities.

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It is challenging to reduce ground-level ozone (O3) pollution at a given locale, due in part to the contributions of both local and distant sources. We present direct evidence that the increasing regional effects have negated local control efforts for O3 pollution in Hong Kong over the past decade, by analyzing the daily maximum 8 h average O3 and Ox (=O3+NO2) concentrations observed during the high O3 season (September-November) at Air Quality Monitoring Stations. The locally produced Ox showed a statistically significant decreasing trend over 2002-2013 in Hong Kong. Analysis by an observation-based model confirms this decline in in situ Ox production, which is attributable to a reduction in aromatic hydrocarbons. However, the regional background Ox transported into Hong Kong has increased more significantly during the same period, reflecting contributions from southern/eastern China. The combined result is a rise in O3 and a nondecrease in Ox. This study highlights the urgent need for close cross-boundary cooperation to mitigate the O3 problem in Hong Kong. China's air pollution control policy applies primarily to its large cities, with little attention to developing areas elsewhere. The experience of Hong Kong suggests that this control policy does not effectively address secondary pollution, and that a coordinated multiregional program is required.

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