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Harmful pollutants added to air quality standard

12-05-2011 08:26 BJT

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Air quality has been the talk of the country following the frequent, dense smog that blanketed almost all major cities in China over the last month. The Ministry of Environmental Protection is about to finish gauging opinions from the public about a revised Air Quality Standard. And just as the public had been demanding, a new extensive list of pollutants, including ones that cause haze, will be included in the rating for the very first time.

Pressures are mounting for the government to provide more information on air pollution. And these calls have been heard, at least in the revised Air Quality Standard.

An elderly couple wears masks as protection against air pollution in Beijing.

Starting in 2016, China will follow the international practice of including readings of PM 2.5, particulate matters smaller than 2.5 micrometers, ozone and carbon monoxide.

Tighter rules will also be set for some pollutants already monitored, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matters smaller than ten micrometers.

Frequent hazy days in November caused widespread concern across the country.

PM 2.5, the smallest and most harmful pollutants in the air, became a buzzword overnight with citizens demanding more transparency from air monitoring authorities.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection says these concerns were strong enough to shape the new standard.

Wu Xuefang, director of Environment Standard Research Institute, MEP, said: In the first draft, PM 2.5 was just a recommended item. Local governments could choose whether to measure it or not. But we got very strong feedback from the media and public, so we made mandatory.

Still, many are frustrated the new standard won’t be put into use until 2016.

The Ministry however, says the timetable is more flexible for local governments.

Wu said: "We encourage some areas suffering from the most server haze problems to adopt the new standard sooner. It should be implemented all over the country by 2016."

The country’s economic hub, Shanghai, is likely to be the first city to publish PM 2.5 readings. City Officials say more than 20 monitoring stations are already measuring it. For now, it’s for internal testing, but that should soon end, and the public will then know how clean the air really is.

A man crosses over Second Ring Road in Beijing on November 22.

Cars drive on Second Ring Road in Beijing. The number of cars on Beijing's roads is
increasing by around 250,000 a year, on top of the five million already registered.


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: CNTV.CN

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