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New rules on air pollution in the works

By : China Daily | Published: 2018-February-28

[InKunming--China] Tailored measures will apply to 28 cities in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.

China is drafting tailored air pollution control measures for 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as part of a national three-year campaign, the top environmental authority said on Tuesday.

A national research center with 1,500 scientists and other experts has been established to study the causes of air pollution and to develop pollution control measures. Meanwhile, 500 researchers have been dispatched to the 28 cities to conduct research and offer guidance for local air pollution-control work, said He Kebin, dean of the School of Environment at Tsinghua University at a news conference organized by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

He also said a detailed list has been made of air pollution sources at the county level in the 28 cities, and more research will be done before the final tailored measures are drafted.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region will be key in the coming campaign in light of the heavy pollution there. The campaign will focus on transforming the structure of industry, energy and transportation, said Liu Bingjiang, head of air quality management at the ministry.

According to the ministry, even though the 28 cities cover no more than 3 percent of the country's territory, they discharge 10 percent of the sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds in the country, as well as 15 percent of the nitric oxide and primary particulates. The key air pollution source for PM2.5 - hazardous fine particles measuring 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller - in the region are produced by coal burning, industrial production and motor vehicles.

The three-year campaign is one of the government's latest efforts for air pollution control in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region after a five-year national campaign brought down the average concentration of PM2.5 by almost 40 percent from 2013 in the region.

In Beijing, the average concentration of PM2.5 went down from 89.5 micrograms per cubic meter in 2013 to 58 mcg per cu m last year. About 4.7 million households in the rural areas of the 28 cities have converted to clean energy heating sources.

Beijing was stricken by heavy smog on Tuesday morning and initiated a yellow-alert, the third-highest under China's four-tier alert system. Liu said that, generally speaking, air quality has improved in the country, but the situation remains pressing.

"The research of several top climate experts has shown that the monsoon in East Asia is weakening and the lower and middle atmosphere in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region will be more stable because of global warming. These factors will result in more frequent smog," he said.

He added that the annual discharge of many of the air pollutants in the country, including sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds, still amount to more than 10 million metric tons. These discharge amounts need to be cut by more than a half to reach the national standard of PM2.5 - concentration below 35 mcg per cu m. The smog in Beijing is expected to disperse after Wednesday night.

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