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Chinese scientists develop test to warn against toxic smog

(Xinhua)    15:57, March 17, 2017

BEIJING, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have developed a testing method, using yeast genes marked with fluorescence, to give a real-time warning when substances hazardous to humans appear in smog.

Scientists with the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering of Peking University said Friday that they had obtained a national patent for the air pollutant warning system.

Yao Maosheng, a chief scientist with the Peking University program, said PM2.5 was fine particulate matter that caused smog.

The research team has selected yeast genes that have reactions to particulate matter from smog air samples obtained from different regions around the world.

Yao explained that the research team used brewer's yeast for testing PM2.5. The gene sequencing of yeast was completed in 1996, and scientists have now been able to trace genes in yeast that have reactions to PM2.5 and mark them with fluorescence.

By monitoring the movement of the fluorescence-marked genes, scientists can give real-time alerts when the density of poisonous substances in PM2.5 rises.

"In future research, the team hopes to determine which substances in the smog are disease-causing virulent strains," Yao said.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is China's most heavily air-polluted area.

China has deployed equipment for round-the-clock online monitoring of PM2.5, and strengthened research on smog to improve the precision of measures to fight it.

Premier Li Keqiang said Wednesday that China would set up a special fund and pool the country's best scientists to find out the unique cause of smog that frequently blankets northern China.

Speaking at a press conference after the conclusion of the annual national legislative session, Li said the government was determined to spend as much as needed for the research to fight and win the battle against smog.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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