CHAPTER 20 - AIR EMISSIONS
HKUST is located within the Port Shelter Air Control Zone. The Air Pollution Control Ordinance, Cap 311, and the Air Pollution Control (Amendment) Bill 1992 contain the law governing air emissions from the University. The goal of HSEO is to enable the University to comply with specific terms of the law governing air emissions, and also meet the general terms of the law that require the control of any emission that is likely to be prejudicial to human health.
B. The Air Pollution Control Ordinance
- The First Schedule of the Ordinance defines "noxious or offensive emissions" to include:
- Ammonia and its compounds
- Asbestos Bromine and its compounds
- Carbon Monoxide
- Chlorine and its compounds
- Cyanogen and its compounds
- Fluorine and its compounds
- Fumes and dust containing aluminium, antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, mercury, nickel, tin, vanadium, zinc or their compounds
- Fumes or vapours from petrochemical works
- Fumes or vapours from gas works
- Fumes or vapours from tar and bitumen works
- Hydrogen sulphide
- Metal or metallic oxide fumes
- Oxides and oxyacids of nitrogen
- Hydrocarbons Smoke, soot, grit and dust
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphurous acid
- Sulphur trioxide and sulphuric acid
- Volatile organic sulphur compounds
Cap 311 was modified in 1989 to include Section 7 which defines 10 air control zones for Hong Kong (including the Port Shelter Air Control Zone where HKUST is located). Section 7 also defines air quality criteria to include sulphur dioxide, total suspended particulates, respirable suspended particulates, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, photochemical oxidants (as determined by ozone levels) and lead.
HSEO has begun to systematically evaluate the emissions to the air that come from laboratory exhaust (fume cupboards and specialized exhaust). Where emissions are excessive, or could endanger roof top operations such as maintenance work, or the animal facility, various scrubbers have been recommended. Where specific air emissions could be a nuisance to neighbours of HKUST, recommendations are made for correction, scrubbing or alteration of practice. HSEO will continue to monitor HKUST air emissions to maintain records for compliance and EPD audit purposes and for health and safety reasons.
C. Protection of the Ozone Layer
The Hong Kong Government is a signatory to the Montreal Protocol which is an internationally agreed phasing out program of ozone depleting substances. As such the government has a responsibility to follow the “Revised Montreal Protocol” as agreed to in a meeting of the parties held in Copenhagen in November 1992. The revised agreement mandates the phasing out of Halons (Halon 1211 - BCF and Halon 1301 - BTM) by the end of 1993, CFCs (R11, R12, R113, R114, R115, R500 and R502) by the end of 1995 and HCFCs (R22 and R123) by the end of 2020.
HKUST is or used to be a user of each class of chemicals listed above, (i.e. Halons, CFCs and HCFCs). At this time, HKUST has finished replacing the Halons used in portable fire extinguishers and the larger fixed fire suppression systems in the University. Replacement products will either be the transitional chemicals (products containing HCFCs which must themselves be replaced by 2020) FM 200 for Halon 1301, and FM 100 for Halon 1211 used in portable fire extinguishers, or one of the newer products.
CFC 11 is or used to be used in the 7 large chiller units which provide air conditioning for the HKUST facilities. The HCFC 123 (the only currently approved alternative for CFC 11) has been installed in more than half of the chiller units as of July 1997.
Other smaller systems within the University, such as window ACs, automobile ACs and refrigerator units are not currently mandated by law for immediate change. Service and maintenance on these items will continue to be done in a careful manner to ensure compliance with regulations on handling and venting of CFCs.
D. Alleviation of Green House Effect
Certain gaseous compounds, such as carbon dioxide, are known as “Green House Gases” because of their tendency to selectively absorb long wave-length solar radiation reflected from the earth surface, and therefore trapping solar energy within the atmosphere. This is similar to glass panels of a green house, which allow sunlight to penetrate, but prevent the reflecting longer wave-length radiation to escape. Burning of fossil fuels and other human activities drastically increase the atmospheric concentration of Green House Gases. The long term effects include increase in global temperature, perturbation of ecological balance, and inundation of coastal areas due to melting of polar ice cap.
Although the British Government did not make any specific pledge on behalf of Hong Kong in the 1992 Earth Summit held in Brazil regarding reduction of Green House Effect, it is the position of the Hong Kong Government to act in the same spirit as the joint declaration signed by various countries. HKUST as a responsible local community should perform its share in alleviating the global green house effect by reducing energy consumption and follow good resource conservation practice (see Chapter 18, Resource Conservation).