Shanghai publishing more air quality readings

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 June, 2012, 12:00am


Shanghai began publishing readings of fine, inhalable particulate matter, known as PM2.5, from eight more monitoring stations yesterday, taking the total in the city to 10.

The readings are announced every hour on the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau's website and microblog.

Analysts said it was a step forward in improving the disclosure of air quality data. Most of the stations are in densely populated areas such as the Jingan and Luwan districts. 'The ... stations cover a wide area and are a good reference for the public,' said Ma Jun , head of the non-government Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The release of the readings is the result of new requirements by the Ministry of Environmental Protection after the mainland revised its air quality standards at the end of last year to include PM2.5 levels. Major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai were required to adopt the new standards by the end of this year and they will be adopted nationwide by 2016.

Shanghai's official average PM2.5 reading at 6pm yesterday was 15.2 micrograms per cubic metre, lower than a reading of 17 by the US consulate, which gave the city a 'moderate' Air Quality Index rating of 55.

Ma said the public should not directly compare the readings. Beijing has adopted a lower standard than the US because the country is still trying to catch up with international standards, he said. An index reading of 60 is regarded as good in China but as unhealthy in the US.

The central government came under pressure to release PM2.5 readings following an increase in the number of days with bad air pollution, especially in Beijing. The public wondered why there were no official readings on PM2.5, while the US embassy was releasing hourly readings every day on Twitter.

Zhou Rong, of Greenpeace China, welcomed the release of PM2.5 data but said more needed doing to tackle air pollution. 'Shanghai should lead the Yangtze River Delta to set up a 10-year action plan to reduce air pollution,' she said.

By the end of the year, Shanghai will announce hourly readings of six pollutants, including PM2.5, ozone and carbon monoxide.

Beijing became the first mainland city to publish PM2.5 data in January. Now more than 20 cities, including Guangzhou, Xiamen and Nanjing, do so every day.