Beijing considers banning Chinese New Year fireworks amid smog concerns

Ban in force if city issues “red” or “orange” air pollution alerts

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 December, 2013, 12:10pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 December, 2013, 2:31pm

Revellers in Beijing could be disappointed this Lunar New Year after the authorities said they might ban the use of fireworks if pollution becomes too bad.

The capital’s office for fireworks and firecrackers was cited by Xinhua as saying that the ban will be implemented if the city issues “red” or “orange” air pollution alerts, signifying severe levels of air pollution, during the Lunar New year, which begins on January 31.

Residents will receive text messages reminding them of alerts, but a Beijing police spokesman, Yu Lianwei, said the police will in most cases just tell users to stop flouting the ban.

Containing sulphur-coal compounds and toxic chemicals, fireworks are considered a key contributor to air pollution and each Lunar New Year sees a spike in PM2.5 particles — tiny health-threatening particles that can lodge deep inside people’s lungs or bloodstream — across China.

The office said Beijing will also try to sell “environmentally friendly fireworks”, which contain no sulphur and produce less smoke, but are priced slightly higher than conventional ones.

Firework sales in Beijing are expected to start on January 25, with authorities saying 643,000 cartons of fireworks are in stock, down from 750,000 cartons stocked for this year’s festival, according to the Xinhua report. Fireworks were prohibited in Beijing for 13 years before the ban was lifted in 2006 for the 15 day Lunar New Year period.

Many Chinese cling closely to the use of fireworks and firecrackers, which are seen as an integral part of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

China's online community have vented their grievances over smog levels for months on the internet. Many are shocked as vast swathes of China, including Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, struggle under oppressive smog usually only reserved for northern provinces.