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August 8, 2011

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Air quality companies 'lying to customers'

COMPANIES offering air quality tests in newly decorated homes are lying to customers to con them into paying for unnecessary work, an industry association chief claimed yesterday.

Rogue companies falsely claim to have found problems in order to charge more to "improve" the air quality, Li Wei, secretary general of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Association told Shanghai Daily.

And more than 90 percent of the companies have no professional inspection facilities or laboratories, according to an association investigation.

They use simple instruments and claim formaldehyde or other harmful elements are present, said Li.

They then ask customers to invite another company - to which they are linked - to remove the materials.

It costs 1,600 yuan (US$248) to check a 100-square-meter apartment and 2,000 yuan to improve air quality, an insider told the Shanghai Morning Post.

The insider said business was booming in the sector.

Around 45 percent of local residents said an indoor air quality inspection was necessary after decoration, according to a survey by the newspaper.

"I don't have great confidence in the paint and other decoration materials," said Jiang Fan who has just bought an apartment in the city.

However, most consumers said it was hard for them to find a qualified inspection company. Air quality reports from qualified companies will have a China Metrology Accreditation stamp, issued by China's quality supervision authority, Li said.

The companies must also have laboratories and it should take several days to get a reliable result, he said.

"If inspectors tell you some harmful elements were detected right after the inspection, be suspicious," he said.

Li said it was unnecessary to hire a company to improve air quality. Householders should just leave the windows open for several days to ensure the apartment is well ventilated.


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