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July 19, 2012

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Home » Metro » Environment

Antipollution plan to combat high PM2.5 in clean benchmark area

A THREE-YEAR environment protection project has been launched in Qingpu District to cut the emission of some major pollutants by 20 percent as a way to battle PM2.5 pollution, the environmental watchdog said yesterday.

The announcement came after the district's Dianshanhu monitoring spot, the city's current clean air benchmark, was reported to have higher readings for PM2.5 pollution than nine other monitoring locations used in the local air quality evaluation system.

PM2.5 measures particles of 2.5 microns or less in diameter. It will be included in the city's overall air quality evaluation system at the end of this year.

Environmental officials said experts are still trying to figure out why the spot, which used to have very good results from standard monitoring measures, now has the highest PM2.5 readings.

But they said yesterday that the district's total emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, which may form PM2.5 particles after chemical reactions, is expected to be reduced by 20 percent in the three-year project.

The project, in which the government has invested a total of 1.2 billion yuan, would cover eight parts including development of clean energy, treatment of volatile organic compounds, the control of dust and others, said an official surnamed Zhao with Qingpu Environment Bureau.

In the project, a total of 300 tons of coal burned for industrial uses would be replaced by natural gas, said Zhao.

Meanwhile, a new ecological wetlands area covering a total of 4.6 square kilometers at the Dianshanhu area is expected to open to visitors next year, which may also improve the area's air quality and environment, government officials said yesterday.

City officials said they are still working with experts to provide an explanation for the high PM2.5 readings.

"One common theory is that the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide pollutants were blown to the area by wind from central city," said an official surnamed Luo with Shanghai Environment Bureau.

"The pollutants were not PM2.5 particles so they were not detected in other monitoring spots. But after they were blown to the Dianshanhu area, they might form PM2.5 particles during an oxidation process."

Luo said there were also many other theories to explain the problem-some say the residents' burning of straw in fields or joss sticks at a nearby temple led to the pollutants, while some say it was from cars at a nearby highway.

Some even raised doubts as to whether the PM2.5 monitoring devices could have mistaken water molecules for pollutant particles. But all the theories are just speculation without evidence, said Luo.


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