Beijing air quality continues to improve after Olympics

15:38, April 01, 2011      

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Beijing's air quality continues to improve after the 2008 Olympics, and the improvements have not dissipated as an American study claimed, said Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Environment Protection Bureau (BMEPB), in an interview on March 31.

U.S. report not based on facts

The Wall Street Journal reported on March 30 that according to a study published by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, the Chinese government managed to improve Beijing's air quality by 30 percent during the Olympics, "but a year after the games, about 60 percent of those gains had evaporated."

Du cited monitoring statistics from the BMEPB as proof of the impressive improvement in air quality during the games, saying that the amount of all air pollutants in the city was reduced by more than 50 percent during the period. "I do not know how the American researchers came up with a mere 30 percent improvement," he said.

Furthermore, he noted that the claim "a year after the games, about 60 percent of those gains had evaporated" is undoubtedly against the facts.

Beijing enjoyed more blue-sky days after the games

According to statistics from the BMEPB, Beijing embraced its best air quality in 10 years in 2009, witnessing a total of 285 blue-sky days, an increase of 11 days from 2008.

The city achieved its annual blue-sky day target one month ahead of schedule in 2010, and met the air quality standard every day in January 2011, its first completely blue-sky month since 1998.

Hao Jiming, head of the Institute of Environmental Science and Engineering under Tsinghua University, said that many interim measures for improving air quality were lifted after the Olympics, though the odd-even traffic restrictions on private vehicles and a few other measures remain in use. In fact, the fundamental reason behind the increasingly good air quality in Beijing after the Olympics is the effective implementation of the national industrial restructuring plan and the air pollution control measures to which the city has been adhering for more than 10 years.

U.S. monitoring method too harsh

The Wall Street Journal also mentioned that the hourly air quality monitoring data released by the United States Embassy does not show much "good weather."

Professor Zhu Tong from the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering under Peking University explained that the United States Embassy mainly monitors the number of PM2.5 (particulates less than 2.5 microns in diameter), while Beijing environmental protection departments mainly monitor the number of PM10. The observed objects are different and even have different compositions.

Zhu said that it is not scientific to compare the 24-hour average value combined data from 27 air quality monitoring stations in Beijing with the hourly maximum value observed by the monitoring point of the United States Embassy.

According to sources, except for the United States and some European Union countries, most countries in the world currently monitor the number of PM10.

By People's Daily Online

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