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April 1, 2014

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10 years of industrial growth fouls the air at Dianshan Lake

ENVIRONMENTAL authorities are considering removing the “clean air” status awarded to Dianshan Lake in Qingpu District as it no longer merits the title.

Considered almost pollution-free just 10 years ago, the location was considered ideal as a comparative base for measuring air quality. But following a steep rise in industrial development in the area the lake’s monitoring station now frequently records some of the highest concentrations of PM2.5 particles in the city.

According to Yang Xin, a professor at Fudan University’s environmental science and engineering department, Dianshan is a victim of its location.

Northwesterly winds carrying polluted air from other provinces and southeasterly winds loaded with pollutants from downtown areas collide at the lake, so the readings there are getting worse, he said.

In contrast, downtown Putuo District regularly sees the lowest PM2.5 densities in Shanghai, though few people living there would claim the air quality is actually better.

The problem is that establishing a true measure of air quality involves many different and changing factors, officials from the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center said.

Zhuang Guoshun, a director of the atmospheric chemistry research center at Fudan University, agrees.

He said because the tiny PM2.5 particles remain in the air for up to 10 days they affect air quality readings in more than one place.

“It’s easy to take a PM2.5 reading and then make a conclusion about the air quality in a certain place at a set point in time,” he said.

“But if the wind is high, those particles will be distributed across a larger area and the air quality will be more balanced.”


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