Clean, green Spring Festival

By Zhang Kai
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, January 30, 2014
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Spring Festival is about family reunion, the Lunar New Year Eve dinner, and visiting relatives and friends. It is also about setting off fireworks. But with heavy smog covering many cities across North and East China for long spells, especially last year, people have begun debating whether fireworks should be banned during Spring Festival.

The irony is that despite increasing public awareness about environmental protection and a few local governments introducing some rules to limit the use of fireworks this Spring Festival, people are still reluctant to give up the traditional customs and practices.

Ministry of Environmental Protection officials recently said that since the Lunar New Year is the peak time for setting off fireworks, the air quality in the days following it will be particularly poor. Official data show that fireworks can rapidly increase particulate matter, like PM10 and PM2.5, and raise the concentration of sulfur dioxide and other contaminants by several times in the atmosphere. PM10 and PM2.5 are particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less and 2.5 micrometers or less that can be inhaled by and are hazardous to humans. Fireworks set off during Spring Festival drastically raise the level of PM2.5, among other pollutants, in the atmosphere.

The concentration of pollutants in Beijing, for example, increased by 150 microgram per cubic meter on Lunar New Year's day in 2013 because of fireworks. In some areas of Beijing, PM2.5 even exceeded 1,000 microgram per cubic meter, much higher than the safe recommended level, and the mean concentration of PM10 was 300 microgram per cubic meter, higher by 220 microgram per cubic meter. Fireworks set off during Spring Festival last year also worsened the air quality in Tianjin, Shanghai, Shijiazhuang in Hebei province and Nanjing in Jiangsu province.

Although fireworks will increase the annual average PM2.5 this year too, the fact is the level of air pollution would cause worry even without fireworks worsening it. No wonder, finding ways to reduce air pollution and clear the smog has became a national environmental issue.

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