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Expert confident of good air quality during Olympics
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Beijing's air quality will be greatly improved after air pollution control measures take effect and construction works are finished ahead of next year's Olympics, said an environmental expert in Beijing Tuesday.


"Many scheduled measures on pollution control and prevention are being carried out and will continue next year, which will give Beijing more blue skies and cleaner air," said Zhu Tong, one of the expert panel for Olympics air quality protection and also a professor of the environment science and engineering school at Peking University.


Zhu attributed about 40 percent to 50 percent of the major pollutants in air -- nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and inhalant particulate matter -- to vehicle exhaust emissions.


About 1.3 million cars were banned from the city roads from August 17 to 20 each day to test the effect on air quality for the Olympic Games.


The densities of major pollutants were reduced by an average 20 percent during the test, according to a report by the China National Environmental Monitoring Center.


The success of the "car ban" has prompted the municipal government to write it into the "measures to protect air quality for the 29th Olympic Games" that the government is stipulating, according to Zhu.


"Next year the municipal government will step up efforts in reducing the emissions from motor vehicles," said Zhu.


The many construction sites in Beijing also contribute dust particles to the air. But with most of them finishing next year, the amount of dust particles must be cut by a large margin, Zhu said.


Beijing Shougang Group, China's leading steel manufacturer, has pledged an output reduction of more than 70 percent from next July to September to ensure the Olympics can enjoy better air quality.


Before and during the Olympic Games, no coals will be allowed to use within the Third Ring Road and the amount of coal-fired electricity generation will also be reduced.


During the Games, the municipal government will carry out tighter restrictions on construction works, steel and chemical plants to ensure good air quality.


More than 1,400 gas stations and 1,200 tankers will have been modified by next May so that the petrol can be stored there with the minimum amount escaping to the air, with the result that people will smell nothing pungent around gas stations.


A total of 1,100 gas stations have received notices that they must convert in order to become more environmentally friendly.


"We have been in talks with the city's commercial bureau to suspend those gas stations that refuse any modification," said Du Shaozhong, deputy head of Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, without indicating what the results of the talks were.


By 2006, Beijing had spent 9.7 billion yuan, 3 percent of its GDP, on environmental protection since it won the bid to host the Games in 2001. According to the monitoring results on air pollutants, the density of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and dust particles in 2006 had dropped by 23 percent, 8 percent and 19 percent compared with that of five years ago.


(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2007)

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