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PM2.5 ‘affordable’ to monitor

(Global Times)

08:48, January 05, 2012

Funding problems should not be the biggest obstacle to measuring very small PM2.5 pollution particles in the air, according to a Beijing-based program officer of a US environmental group. The new measurement for air quality testing has been proposed for some regions across the country.

Zhu Jianping, a deputy director of the Department of Environmental Monitoring under the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), told the Beijing Times in December that it is not technically difficult to monitor PM2.5 as the method is similar to that for monitoring PM10 particles. Instead, he said, the biggest problem was funding the new monitoring.

"PM2.5 monitoring equipment costs between 80,000 yuan to 380,000 yuan ($12,620-$59,943). Consider-ing that all cities have already finished their budget planning, it leaves little room for local governments to fund the newly added equipment," Zhu said.

"A preliminary estimate shows that more than 338 prefecture-level cities have to invest more than 2 billion yuan on the equipment," said Zhu.

However, Zhao Lijian, program officer for the environmental management program at the US-based Energy Foundation's Beijing office, said that money shouldn't present a big obstacle to introducing PM2.5 monitoring.

"The cost of monitoring equipment is affordable for those cities," Zhao told the Global Times, adding that including PM2.5 in air quality measurements will help both the government and the public to target the most polluted areas, measure air pollution and tackle it better.

China decided to include PM2.5 measurements in its overall air quality monitoring system in December and outlined a four-step schedule for the next four years at the same time, according to the MEP Minister Zhou Shengxian.

Zhou said that from this year, PM2.5 and ozone will be monitored in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province, the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, municipalities and other provincial capitals.

In 2013, 113 key cities and environmental protection model cities will be added to this list. In 2015, all prefecture-level cities will join the program before a nationwide rollout in 2016.

Public attention focused on PM2.5, particles with a diameter less than 2.5 microns, in late October during a period of heavy air pollution when different air quality measurements were released simultaneously by Beijing's air quality monitoring station, which did not measure PM2.5, and the US embassy in Beijing, which did.

"The bigger task is to reduce emissions of pollutants," Zhao said, adding that this will take time.

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