China to release stricter Beijing pollution measure results
Smokestack emissions, vehicle exhaust and dust blanket the city, causing respiratory problems for citizens and the cancellation of airline flights.
Fri, Jan 06, 2012 at 01:38 AM
SUPER SMOG: Beijing shrouded in smog one day before the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics. (Photo: Guang Niu/Getty Images)
BEIJING - The Beijing city government will soon release the results of stricter air pollution standards, Chinese media reported on Friday, following a public outcry that authorities are understating the extent of smog that often shrouds the capital.
Many Beijing residents complain on the Internet that official figures greatly underestimate the problem and say they only trust readings from the U.S. embassy, which has its own measurement based on U.S. standards. Those readings appear much grimmer than those of the city government's.
The stricter standards by the Beijing city government will now monitor tiny floating particles — 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less, known as PM 2.5 — that doctors warn can more easily settle in the lungs and cause respiratory problems and other illnesses.
A long-standing point of contention for Beijing residents was the government's unwillingness to disclose measures for PM 2.5.
The director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, Liu Xianshu, was quoted in the Beijing Daily as saying that the agency would provide the readings of the PM 2.5 standard starting from the Chinese New Year, which falls on January 23 this year.
Chinese Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian said last month the government might not start releasing the results to the public until 2016.
China has disclosed readings only of pollutant particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or larger.
The level of air pollution in the capital varies, depending on winds.
A cocktail of smokestack emissions, vehicle exhaust, dust and aerosols have at times blanketed the city in a pungent, beige shroud for days on end, and has even forced the cancellation of flights.
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)
Copyright 2012 Reuters Environmental Online Report