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Beijing smog leaves flights in disarray (2)

(Global Times)

08:34, December 06, 2011

However, the official accounts were challenged by data released by the US embassy, which measures air quality based on the concentration of particles of 2.5 micrometers or smaller.

Its figures released on Sunday evening showed that air pollution in the city was hazardous to human health with a PM2.5 concentration beyond its top index of 500. Its reading was 356 on Monday afternoon, which was still considered "dangerous."

The embassy said in November that its weather data is meant for internal use, and they use a different gauge from local weather authorities, which still rate air quality by measuring airborne particulates of 10 micrometers or less (PM10).

Ma Jun, the director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times that PM2.5 particles can easily enter the lungs and blood veins, causing serious lung and cardiovascular diseases.

"Industrial emissions from burning coal, auto exhausts and the burning of household waste are all sources of micro-particles. They are hard to deposit and stay in the air for quite a long time," Ma said.

Since Sunday, the smog has been the most popular topic of discussion on Sina Weibo, a leading microblog service in the country, with more than 4 million posts on the subject.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment added the PM2.5 standard into its newly drafted National Ambient Air Quality Standard, which started its second round of public opinion solicitation last month, but PM2.5 statistics remain unknown to the public.

The Southern Metropolis Daily reported Saturday that the MEPB last week formally rejected demands from Internet users to release Beijing's PM2.5 data. The bureau said the information was just for research purposes and could not be disclosed.

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