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Rainy July Makes 'Blue Sky' Goal Possible
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The skies of Beijing may have been dark with rain, but this didn't stop the capital city scoring an 8-year record of 29 "blue sky" days in July, Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) said yesterday.


"Rainfall on 27 days helped the city wash away pollutants in the air and prevent ground dust from floating," said Zhao Yue, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre.


"Also, northerly winds after the rainfall helped to dispel pollution," Zhao said.


Zhao added that 27 days of rainfall is a new record, though the amount of rain was still below average for the time of year.


Since the city has a relatively small containing capacity for its huge pollution discharge, its environmental quality largely depends on weather changes. The improvement of air quality last month is a typical case, according to Zhao.


"The good clean air record in July was helpful for the city to meet its target of 238 blue sky days in 2006," said Du Shaozhong, vice- director and spokesman of Beijing EPB.


So far this year Beijing has had 136 blue sky days, including the bumper July.


"The continuous days with rainfall and clean air also washed away our worries about the target being impossible," Du said.


At the beginning of last month, Beijing EPB warned that the target was looking hard to achieve. By the end of June, Beijing had recorded just 107 blue sky days, 10 days down from last year, Beijing EPB revealed.


The situation this year has not been helped by the severe sandstorms that swept through the city in the spring.


The smoke floating across the city was another problem. Farmers in neighboring Hebei Province burned straw, generating heavy smoke and dust in late June.


"Beijing is still facing a severe air pollution problem which throws obstacles in front of the target," Du said. "The city has to continue its efforts to clean the sky."


(China Daily August 2, 2006)

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