New system to help clear the air

Updated: 2012-02-22 07:17

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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Monitoring of PM 2.5 particles to assess health risk of pollution

BEIJING - A national surveillance system will be launched to monitor the effect on human health of PM 2.5, a senior disease control official said. PM 2.5 is the term for particulate matter in haze and fog measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less.

New system to help clear the air

The system, the first of its type, will look at medical and mortality records and compare them to instances of fog and haze to enable targeted intervention, said Xu Dongqun, deputy director of the institute of environmental health and related product safety at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"By studying the links we will be able to assess the exact health risks posed by the fine particulates, and, if needed, issue timely alerts," she told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

The system reflects growing government recognition of the challenge, she said.

The system will be first implemented on a trial basis in Beijing and then expanded to five other regions before being introduced nationally, Xu said.

It will also establish the possible sources of any fog and haze as well as the exact nature of the pollutants and give residents warning of possible areas to avoid, she said.

However, due to current capacity limitations, the surveillance can only currently cover cities with existing air quality monitoring stations, she said.

"But that doesn't mean the countryside is better than cities in this regard," she added.

Rural areas are also hit by fog and haze, Xu said, namely indoor air pollution and smoke from coal fires.

The cities, on the other hand, face problems from vehicle emissions and industrial production.

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