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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Shanghai 'good air' days may be numbered

By Cai Wenjun   (Shanghai Daily)

13:45, February 28, 2012

Shanghai reported the most days with so-called excellent or good air quality in the past 12 years last year, but such a strong record is expected to drop 10 to 15 percent after the city introduces a more stringent measurement in June.

There were 337 days with excellent or good air quality last year, meaning 92.3 percent of all days made one of those grades, the best two of the five-tier category.

After enacting an action plan, the local pollutant index dropped 25.8 percent from 2000 and was 18.6 percent better than 2008. Decreased discharges of chemical oxygen demand, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide last year all surpassed the plan, but fine particles, ozone and sulfur-caused acid rain have become a major problem in the city, said the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.

Officials said residents may not have felt the improvement in air quality, since the measuring system included only PM10, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide but not the stricter PM2.5 gauge, which monitors fine particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter.

PM2.5 affects air quality and visibility, causing haze, and posing major health risks as they are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs and even enter the bloodstream, leading to some premature deaths and long-term diseases.

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