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SEPA Publishes Q1 Report
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The country's top environment watchdog yesterday released its first-quarter report, but its content provided little more than an overview of the nation's environmental health.

Pan Yue, vice-minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), did not give specifics of where or how the environment had deteriorated, nor did he provide figures on major pollutant emissions such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and chemical oxygen demand (COD), a water pollution index.

Pan did say that inhalable particles were still the major pollutants in air. In many cities, the level of discharged pollutions had already grown close to the environmental limits, he said.

Pan said that air quality was vulnerable to weather change.

For example, in the first three months of the year, North China was hit by eight sandstorms, which lasted for a total of 13 days, fewer than in the same period last year.

So, generally speaking, key cities in North China were less seriously polluted this year than last, Pan said.

Across the country's 113 environmentally monitored cities, "good air" days accounted for 83 percent of the total in the first quarter, up 6 percentage points on the same period last year.

Pan said the water quality in the country's seven main rivers had remained unchanged in the period.

However, water quality in the Songhua River, which was polluted by a chemical spill in November 2005, had worsened, and many of its tributaries were also seriously polluted. Pollution in the Huaihe River, which authorities have been attempting to clean up for the past 10 years, had become significantly worse, the report said.

Pan said that the quality of potable water in key cities had dropped by 5 percentage points compared with the same period last year, with just 69 percent reaching the standard. Only 66 cities have source water that meets national environmental standards, he said.

The report said that the results of noise monitoring efforts sent in by 175 cities, showed that more success had been achieved during the daytime than at night.

(China Daily May 22, 2007)

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