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September 21, 2012

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Home » Metro » Environment

Alarm over air quality in bars and restaurants

LEVELS of fine pollutants in the air in restaurants, Internet cafes and bars in China's capital are alarmingly high, mainly due to smoking, according to a Beijing-based NGO.

The Green Beagle Environment Institute conducted a PM2.5 monitoring study at 43 venues and found that smoking had resulted in a PM2.5 density that was much higher than the national standard.

PM2.5 refers to particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less that can result in respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses.

The bars checked showed a PM2.5 density 6.4 times the standard, and one bar's readings were more than 15 times as high.

Volunteers used portable devices to measure the air quality at the venues at busy periods between March and September this year.

Wang Qiuxia, the project leader, said smoking was the major source of PM2.5 particles indoors. None of the 43 venues had banned smoking and there were smokers there during the tests.

The average PM2.5 density in restaurants was 147.8 micrograms per cubic meter, in Internet cafes 252.7 micrograms and bars 481.8 micrograms. The national standard is 75 micrograms per cubic meter.

Officials from the Shanghai Health Promotion Association, which leads smoking control in Shanghai, said they have been considering installing PM2.5 monitoring devices at public venues and nicotine detectors in taxis to educate the public about the harm of smoking.

"An indoor PM2.5 testing result can be influenced by the outside air quality and location of the venue," said the association's Tang Qiong.

"As a government-based association, we are still discussing how to do such a test, which should be accurate and authoritative compared with those launched by the NGO. But a total ban on smoking in public venues is definitely what we are pushing for."

She said the association was urging the Shanghai People's Congress to amend the city's smoking control law to expand the current ban at certain venues to all public places and stop having smoking areas in restaurants as that didn't protect non-smokers from second-hand smoking.

Green Beagle said its study showed that smoking was a serious problem in Beijing and called for a total ban on smoking in public places.


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