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December 10, 2015

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Car curbs reducing pollution in the capital

EMERGENCY measures cut pollutant emissions in Beijing by 30 percent between early morning and late afternoon on Tuesday, the day following the city’s first red alert for smog, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The measures involved limiting car use and construction and industrial activity. The 30 percent reduction was achieved between 7am and 5pm, officials told reporters yesterday.

Without the measures, the density of PM2.5, the tiny and particularly hazardous airborne particles, would have risen by 10 percent over the period, environmentalists with Beijing University of Technology estimated.

The density of PM2.5 sulfates, commonly caused by coal-burning, was much higher on Tuesday than on Monday, while the air held far fewer PM2.5 nitrates, mostly emitted by vehicles, said Chai Fahe, deputy head of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.

That indicated traffic restrictions were effective but more work needed to be done to reduce emissions from coal burning, Chai said.

Coal-powered winter heating systems are seen as a major cause of the smog that blights north China around this time of year.

Under the red alert, Beijing banned outdoor work on construction sites and required some industrial plants to limit or stop production.

Car use was halved based on odd or even license plate numbers.

The ministry called on local environment protection authorities to punish enterprises that fail to initiate emergency response plans to reduce the smog.

It found some polluters continued to operate after teams were dispatched to areas around Beijing to ensure emergency measures were in place.

Yesterday, the northern Chinese industrial hub of Baoding in Hebei Province ordered thousands of factories to suspend or limit production as it continued to choke under smog.

According to the city government, 2,045 plants stopped or cut production. It also banned work on 562 construction sites.

Baoding, 150 kilometers from Beijing, is ever present on the list of top 10 cities with the worst air quality.


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