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City can't fend off region's acid rain

WHILE Shanghai is doing a better job controlling its own sulfur dioxide emissions, it suffered more instances of acid rain last year as a result of regional pollution, according to an environmental report released yesterday.

The report also showed that the city was noisier at night and its roads were dirtier last year than the year before.

The number of acid-rain incidents rose 3.6 percent in 2008 from the year before, the fifth straight year of increases, according to the annual Shanghai Environmental Bulletin.

But the city was able to cut sulfur dioxide emissions, the key component of acid rain, by 10.4 percent, after spending 42.2 billion yuan (US$6.18 billion) on overall environmental protection measures last year, around 3 percent of the local gross domestic product. The reduction goal for 2008 was 5 percent.

"Acid rain is a regional problem in a large part of the country including Shanghai," said Jiang Dahe, a professor at Tongji University's College of Environmental Science and Engineering.

Jiang explained that the city's effort to control sulfur dioxide emissions was not sufficient to offset the regional situation, adding, "Other provinces around Shanghai should join together to enforce sulfur dioxide controls to improve the environment."

A total of 328 days, or 89.6 percent of the year, registered "good" or "excellent" air quality, a drop of 0.3 percent from 2007, according to the report, by the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.

The study also showed that the city cut chemical oxygen demand, a key measure of water pollution, by 9.4 percent last year, compared with a goal of 4 percent.

In other measures, Shanghai failed to stay within national noise limits for the fifth consecutive year.

Last year, the citywide average noise reading during the day was 71.4 decibels, down a half decibel from the year before. The nighttime reading was 66.4db, up 0.5db. The national standards are 70db at night and 55db during the day. In comparison, a 70db level is similar to the sound of a noisy restaurant.

"The traffic noise is mainly caused by the continuous horn blowing," Jiang said.

Meanwhile, construction dust and other dirt left on city streets amounted to 22.8 tons per square kilometer each month last year, 1.7 tons more than in the previous year. As for lawbreakers, the environmental authority fined 1,394 companies and factories 37.3 million yuan last year.


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