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May 25, 2010

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Home » Metro » Environment

Air quality better but room to improve

SHANGHAI'S sulfur dioxide emissions, a major air pollutant, have been cut but the city still gets more acid rain than five years ago, according to the annual Shanghai Environmental Bulletin yesterday.

The situation can be blamed on nitrogen oxide from industrial and vehicle emissions, said the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.

Acid-rain made up 74.9 percent of Shanghai's rain events last year, 4.3 percentage points less than the previous year - the first drop after five years of increases, officials said.

"The cause for acid rain is mainly sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide," said Liu Dailin from the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau. "We managed to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, but control on nitrogen oxide still lags behind."

Shanghai monitors nitrogen oxide levels but the nation still only tests for two pollutant measures - sulfur dioxide in air and chemical oxygen demand in water. China's new environmental protection plan for 2011 to 2015 will include nitrogen oxide monitoring and control.

Shanghai cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 15.05 percent in 2009 from the previous year. Chemical oxygen demand in local waters also dropped last year, by 8.74 percent from 2008.

Both reduction rates topped the nation after the city spent 46 billion yuan (US$6.73 billion) on environmental protection measures last year, about 3.09 percent of the local gross domestic product.

A total of 334 days, or 91.5 percent of last year, registered "good" or "excellent" air quality.

It was the first year that Shanghai has exceeded 90 percent of days meeting the top two quality levels.

Particulate matter is the main local air-quality problem. It was the main pollutant for 344 days last year.

In other measures, Shanghai finally met the national noise limit on daytime road traffic but the nighttime reading still failed.

Last year, the daytime road traffic noise averaged 69.8 decibels and the nighttime reading was 64.4dB, compared to the respective national standards of 70dB and 55dB.


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