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Early start on PM2.5 monitoring

By Li Wenfang and Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)

08:42, March 08, 2012

Environmental authorities of Guangdong province plan to start releasing PM2.5 readings on Thursday, an early-bird approach to meeting the stricter national air quality requirements.

The State Council announced last week that stricter standards would be adopted in cities, including readings for ozone and concentrations of PM2.5 - particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter - which is considered more hazardous to health than larger particles.

Guangdong's initial readings will come from 17 monitoring stations in the Pearl River Delta.

Readings at other stations in the delta would be made public by June 5, with those from all stations in the province available in 2014, said Li Qing, director of the provincial environmental protection bureau, at a work conference on Monday.

Given the marked air pollution in the delta, the number of days with air quality that meet the standards in Guangdong will fall 10 to 30 percent after the new standards are adopted, Li said.

Guangdong's announcement came after Premier Wen Jiabao said in his work report on Monday that China will start monitoring PM2.5 in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and in other key areas, like municipalities directly under the central government, and provincial capital cities this year.

As an economic powerhouse of China, Guangdong faces an uphill task in environmental protection. With a large increase of output from coal-fired power plants last year, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide compound emissions went up, heightening the pressure to fulfill the emission reduction task in the 2011-15 period, according to the provincial environmental protection bureau.

Authorities will tighten clean air legislation this year, strengthening the treatment of emissions from automobiles and coal-fired power plants. They will also phase out obsolete capacities in industries involving furnaces, paper making, printing and dyeing, chemicals, construction materials and cement.

An investment of 100 million yuan ($15.8 million) is needed to enable all 97 national monitoring stations in Guangdong to test the air for PM2.5, in addition to staff recruitment and training.

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