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Beijing to release real-time air-quality data

(Xinhua)

08:09, January 12, 2012

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in the Chinese capital will release real-time air-quality data on the Internet for local residents to check starting Thursday, an environment official said Wednesday.

"We used to release the air-quality information ranging from noon of the previous day to noon of the day in question, but there is a relatively large gap between citizens' actual feelings and the 'past-tense' data," said Zhao Yue, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center.

The center's staff will post air-quality data 24 hours a day on its official website, www.bjmemc.com.cn, based on results from 27 monitoring stations in the city, he said.

The data will mainly cover the density of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM10 (particulate matter under 10 macrometers in size) in the air, Zhao added.

"We will add indices of more items in the future according to the national air-quality standard (when it is revised)," he added.

The rapid growth of China's economy has brought about more air pollution, but the current air-quality rating standard, which remains unchanged for more than 10 years, lags behind the changes, experts have said.

The current standard was first formulated and launched in 1982 and revised in 1996 and 2000.

Late last year, environmental authorities in Beijing and other Chinese cities faced a flurry of criticism from the general public regarding air quality, which was mainly focused on whether PM2.5 should be used to measure air quality.

China currently uses PM10, which gauges particular matter under 10 micrometers, to measure air quality. Nevertheless, PM2.5 is considered more hazardous to people's health as it can penetrate deeper into the lungs.

A recent government proposal for a tighter system of monitoring pollution nationwide, including using the PM2.5 measure, has won support from a majority of the Chinese public.

The plan to measure finer matter is scheduled to be fully implemented nationwide in 2016, and the central government may designate certain regions to adopt it ahead of the national deadline.

Last Friday, the Beijing Environmental Bureau promised that it would provide hourly updates of PM2.5 measures ahead of the Lunar Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan. 23.

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