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January 21, 2012

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Air 'lightly polluted' ... before the fireworks

AIR quality in Shanghai is set to be "lightly polluted" today, the city's air quality watchdog said yesterday.

And as the city prepares to welcome the Chinese New Year on Monday with a fireworks extravaganza, there is little chance of air quality improving in the days to come.

Air quality yesterday was also "lightly polluted," mainly due to widespread haze and mist over the eastern China region, the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center said.

Conditions improved by 11am yesterday as light breezes dispersed some haze, but pollutants increased again at 2pm, the center said.

The air pollution index, a measure of inhalable particulates, rose to about 100 yesterday and is forecast to be around 102 today.

A reading above 100 indicates pollution.

The center advised people with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases to stay at home and avoid physical activity.

Meanwhile, national officials have urged people to set off fewer fireworks during the Spring Festival, in an effort to reduce pollution.

"People should avoid igniting too many fireworks as these are a major source of pollution during the festival," Song Guangsheng, director of the China Indoor Environment Test Center, said yesterday.

Chinese people traditionally set off fireworks at the Chinese New Year to bring good luck for the coming year.

But fireworks release fine particles which affect air quality and visibility, Song said.

In addition, harmful saltpetre and sulfur dioxide are also released when fireworks are set off, added the official.


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