Beijing set to release figures on pollution
The municipal environmental authorities in Beijing will release air pollution readings for PM2.5 - fine particles with a diameter less than 2.5 microns - before the Lunar New Year, Xinhua reports.
Beijing is among the first batch of mainland cities planning to release PM2.5 data. Nanjing and Shanghai have released data from the past few years and have pledged to release real time data when national regulations are in place.
The information released by Beijing will be partial, with only six of the city's monitoring stations equipped to take such readings.
The municipal government said it aimed to install equipment for taking PM2.5 readings in all 27 monitoring stations and release real time figures by the end of this year.
The United States embassy in Beijing has been conducting its own monitoring and publishing PM2.5 readings on the internet, winning praise from the public and giving the authorities a headache.
A Beijing official quoted by Xinhua admitted that the government had been monitoring PM2.5 since 2006. But the data was primarily collected for research purposes, the authorities said.
Ma Jun, head of the non-government Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said the municipal government's decision was a positive move.
The published data, though incomplete, would keep Beijing citizens more informed about the air quality and enable them to take appropriate action on bad days.
'Dry data is not enough. There should be a health advisory every day warning citizens about the hazard of fine particle pollution,' Ma said.
US government standards describe PM2.5 readings above 300 as 'hazardous for the entire population'. The US embassy's readings in Beijing exceeded 500 - the maximum rating - several times last month.