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November 16, 2013

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Pollution warning for weekend

Shanghai will experience heavy to moderate pollution today that may last until tomorrow, the weatherman said.

Pollutants from the north inland regions of the country and those generated locally have been blamed for the smog since Thursday evening.

Slow wind is also to blame for the situation, they said.

According to the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center, the Air Quality Index will hover between 240 to 260 this morning before easing off a bit to 190 to 210 in the afternoon.

It is expected to improve slightly after Sunday.

After being criticized for being too slow in issuing air quality warnings, Shanghai yesterday issued “heavy pollution” alert at 3:15pm, three hours after the AQI surpassed 200.

It was the second time in eight days that the city had sounded an alert.

Shanghai’s environment watchdog first issued a “heavy pollution” warning last Friday. It attracted criticism because the alert arrived 27 hours after the air quality had drastically deteriorated.

But yesterday, the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau was quick to react, alerting citizens after the city’s AQI stayed above 200 for three hours. The index reached 206 around noon and continued to rise.

The city’s average AQI was 228, with Xuhui and Jing’an districts recording the highest of 239 and 235. PM2.5 was the main pollutant, three times the nation’s limit of 75.

The bureau said yesterday they made the changes in publishing the alert earlier after last Friday’s criticism over for the alert delay. “It’s weekend and given last week’s experience, we wanted to issue an in-time warning for those who are planning outings or people who are sensitive to pollution,” a bureau employee told Shanghai Daily.

She said this was still an adaptive reaction and a revised standard for the two-tier system had yet to be made public.

Shanghai has a two-tier air quality warning system — heavy pollution and severe pollution.

According to the criteria, heavy pollution alerts are issued when the AQI remains above 200 for 12 consecutive hours, the density for PM2.5 particles reaches 150 micrograms per cubic meter and shows no sign of improving in the next 24 hours.

After a heavy pollution alert is issued, schools are ordered to stop outdoor classes and activities. Seniors, children and people with heart and lung diseases are advised to stay indoors.

Construction at work sites and discharge of pollutants by factories are suspended. Vehicles carrying construction materials and burning of straw in the open air are banned.

A severe pollution alert is issued after the AQI hovers above 300 for six consecutive hours, the PM2.5 hits 250 micrograms per cubic meters and shows no sign of alleviating in 24 hours.

During such a scenario, fireworks are banned and vehicles restricted on the streets.


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