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Beijing air quality getting better, but more needs to be done
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08:36, April 03, 2008

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Two-thirds of Beijing residents think the city's air quality is getting better, a survey by Gallup, whose results were published on Monday, said.

Sixty-six percent of the more than 4,000 people polled last year, said air quality had improved, compared with just 53 percent of a similar group questioned in 2006.

Gallup's website mentioned the fact that some Olympic athletes had cited air quality concerns as a reason for possibly skipping some events this summer. However, it also quoted the International Olympic Committee's top medical official, Arne Ljungqvist, as saying that while pollution could affect athletes' performance, the levels posed no serious danger to them.

Beijing authorities have been keen to improve air quality by the Olympic year. In a bid to meet World Health Organization air pollution standards and live up to its "Green Olympics'" promises, the city implemented new vehicle emissions standards - equivalent to those applied by the European Union - on March 1, and from July, the number of cars allowed on the city's streets will be reduced.

According to a blue paper on public services and development published in January by the Social Sciences Academic Press, Beijing has enjoyed success in reducing air pollution caused by industry. But to achieve further progress, authorities must now focus on curbing air pollution generated in areas surrounding the capital, an academic has said.

Zhu Tong, a professor with Peking University, said: "In the long run, having cleaner air in surrounding areas is essential to improving Beijing's air quality."

Also, the controls on vehicle emissions must be tightened, as these are "the top source of air pollution", he said.

"People should be encouraged to drive less and use public transport," Zhu said, adding authorities should develop more clean energy sources.

Source: China Daily

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