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Timetable for reducing hazardous pollution

By Li Jing (China Daily)

08:06, December 22, 2011

BEIJING - The Ministry of Environmental Protection on Wednesday laid out a detailed timetable for Chinese cities to monitor the smallest and most hazardous airborne pollutant, known as PM2.5.

Such particulate matters - smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter - can travel into the lungs and damage people's respiratory systems. Currently, China measures air quality based on the larger pollutant PM10, which fails to gauge air quality accurately and has resulted in widespread public complaints in recent months.

"The new air quality standards - those including PM2.5, ozone and carbon monoxide - should be published as soon as possible," Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian told a national meeting on Wednesday.

Cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta, as well as Southwest China's Chongqing municipality and provincial capitals, are requested to monitor PM2.5 and ozone starting in 2012, according to Zhou.

The country's 113 key environmental protection cities will have to start monitoring PM2.5 in 2013, while all county-level cities should follow the rule by 2015.

"The deadline is Jan 1, 2016. By then the new air quality standards will apply to the whole country, and the monitoring results should be made public."

However, he did not make specific requests for cities that monitor PM2.5 before 2016 to publish those readings, which is disappointing some environmentalists.

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