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Shanghai pollution reaches a new high

11-25-2010 10:31 BJT

SHANGHAI, Nov. 25 -- China's largest metropolis has suffered from high levels of pollution since early November, with pollution index figures far higher than those recorded during the six months of the World Expo.

As of Wednesday, the city has witnessed its air pollution index passing 100 for eight days this month, the worst readings in the past five years.

China's environmental standards rate a reading below 50 as "excellent", from 50 to 100 as "good" and above 100 as "polluted".

The latest pollution occurred on Monday when the index reached 107. On Nov 13 it skyrocketed to 370, the highest level in the past decade.

When the index exceeds 300, even healthy people are likely to experience reduced endurance during physical activities, and are likely to suffer strong irritations and other symptoms.

Local residents started to complain about poor air a day after the World Expo finished, when the index hit 156 on Nov 1, the highest level since March. Readings for the next day dropped to 138 and rose again to 151 on Nov 8.

The recent pollution data stood in sharp contrast to figures recorded during the multibillion-yuan fair, when more than 98 percent of the days were recorded as "good".

"It seems things have returned to what they were before the Expo. I guess it is because many of the compulsory measures to fight air pollution have come to an end," said local resident Zhao Yi'an.

The city's air-monitoring center blamed worsening air conditions on sandstorms which swept across northern China on Nov 11 and carried dust as it moved south.

There are also higher risks of air pollution in Shanghai during winter as the cold wave brings polluted air from inland provinces, the center said.

It also said Shanghai did not close factories or halt their production for the sake of the Expo, which means air quality should not have deteriorated because the event came to an end.

Still, many people believe the resumption of construction work after the Expo and the easing of pollution controls in suburban and rural areas have contributed to the recent increase in pollution.

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