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January 2, 2012

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Home » Metro » Environment

New year starts with a gray day

Shanghai's air was "lightly polluted" on the first day of the year and today will see the same conditions, the city's air quality watchdog said yesterday.

Pollution yesterday morning was mainly due to wide haze and mist over the eastern China region, the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center said.

Air quality had improved by noon with light breezes dispersing some pollution, but pollutants increased again during the evening, the center said.

The air pollution index, a measure of inhalable particulates, rose to 115 yesterday, from Saturday's 95. A reading above 100 indicates pollution.

The index will rise to 125 this morning and remain at around 115 till the end of the day when air quality is expected to return to "good," according to the center.

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

The city recorded 337 days of good air quality in 2011, one day more than in 2010, but some residents complained they felt no improvement in air quality.

"The watchdog always tells us the air quality is good, but we just see many days in a year having dusty skies," said Wang Shuren, who works for a wholesale grocer.

To improve the accuracy of the city's air quality index, the center is monitoring air quality using a stricter PM2.5 standard.

PM2.5 refers to airborne particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, tiny particles that affect not only visibility but health.

Fu Qingyan, chief engineer at the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center, said the city's PM2.5 data would be made public soon after the national standard is officially announced.

Currently, Shanghai reports only sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and less sensitive particular matter PM10 in its daily air-quality report.

The stricter standard is to be introduced throughout the country over the next five years, with Shanghai and Beijing starting to use it this year.

Monitoring PM2.5 has been carried out in Shanghai since 2005, but the city had failed to meet a proposed standard for the past five years, according to the monitoring center.


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