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Air monitors look to widen their scope

(China Daily)

09:42, November 11, 2011

BEIJING - China's environmental planning body is seeking to lower the levels of small particulate pollutants in key industrial regions and cities by about 10 percent by 2015, sources close to the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Thursday.

And a new set of standards under discussion to evaluate air quality is likely to include readings of PM2.5, the tiny airborne pollutants smaller than 2.5 microns that cause haze and can travel deep into the lungs and damage human respiratory systems.

"China is among the worst polluted places by particulate matter in the world, and the concentration of PM2.5 in most Chinese cities is higher than the safe levels called for by air quality guidelines published by the World Health Organization," said Hao Jiming, a professor from the department of environmental science and engineering at Tsinghua University.

The country now only reports air quality based on readings of PM10, particulate matter smaller than 10 microns, which is why monitoring results do not match people's sense of pollution.

Zhang Lijun, vice-minister of environmental protection, said that Chinese cities are facing severe air pollution.

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