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10 years' work will 'ensure' clean-air Games
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Beijing's air quality will meet Olympic standards thanks to the huge efforts made over the past 10 years, a senior environmental official said Wednesday.

"I can firmly say that we will fulfill the commitment we made during the bidding period for the Olympic Games," Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing environmental protection bureau, said.

"Better air circulation and ample rainfall, which are usually seen in the summer, will help dissipate pollutants.

"Under normal meteorological conditions, the air quality in Beijing during the Olympics will meet national and World Health Organization standards," he said.

Du said the 14th phase of pollution control measures was implemented at the start of the year and Beijing is working closely with neighboring provinces and municipalities to ensure the air quality will be good during the Games.

"We will introduce additional measures during the Games, such as imposing a partial ban on motor vehicles, controlling dust from construction sites and ordering heavily-polluting factories to cut emissions and discharges," Du said.

He declined to provide further information about the new measures but said full details will be released in due course.

"Beijing is working closely with authorities in Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Shandong on a range of air quality control measures for the Olympics," he said.

Since 1998, Beijing has introduced more than 200 measures in 14 phases to reduce emissions from vehicles, coal plants and other industries to improve the city's air quality, he said.

In that time, the amount of sulfur dioxide in the air has been reduced by almost 61 percent, while carbon monoxide levels have been cut by nearly 40 percent.

Similarly, the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the capital's air has been cut by nearly 11 percent and breathable particles have been reduced by almost 18 percent, he said.

The number of "blue sky" days had also risen significantly over the period, he said.

The 14th phase will include a number of new measures such as the removal from the city's roads of 2,300 cars, 1,500 buses and 2,000 taxis that fail to meet emission standards.

"We expect the new measures to reduce the amount of breathable particles of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide by 50,000 tons," Du said.

The drive to clean Beijing's air will continue long after the Olympics, he said.

(China Daily February 28, 2008)

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