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US donation to help lower rural pollution
By Wu Chong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-21 00:22

Three western rural areas may benefit from grants donations from the US Government to reduce indoor air pollution from household energy use.

The two US$150,000 grants from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were awarded to the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Nature Conservancy (TNC) Monday.

The money will be used in Guizhou, Gansu and Yunnan provinces to sponsor local rural energy projects.

With one grant, the Institute for Environmental Health and Related Product Safety (IEHS) under the CDC will help 3,000 households, or half of the residents in Guizhou and Gansu, adopt cleaner and safer stoves or heating devices.

"The traditional stoves or heating systems there work by burning coal, especially high arsenic coal, which gives off thick poisonous smokes," said Jin Yinlong, director of IEHS.

"Additionally, the old stuff lacks ventilation systems to let smokes out."

Jin said a lot of local residents are hit with skin cancer because they are besieged by large amounts of noxious smokes every day.

It is anticipated that the new practice will reduce indoor air pollution emissions by 80 per cent, said the US Embassy.

"Besides, we will initiate chains of production of stoves and the parts, construction and maintenance and distribution as well as related training in the region," Jin said.

"It is believed that unclean fuel will keep playing a dominant role in China's rural household energy in the future," said Wang Yu, Director of the CDC.

Wang said the CDC wants to explore a feasible and sustainable indoor air pollution control strategy, through the co-operation with the EPA, that may apply to more areas in China.

Another big project in Yunnan that will take advantage of the donation will focus on reducing use of wood as fuel.

TNC, which will shoulder the responsibility, said the alternative energy programme started three years ago in an effort to balance local energy needs with biodiversity and health benefits.

It aims to cut down local wood use by 75 per cent in the next 10 years by developing and delivering environmentally friendly energy units to 25,000 local people.

"Our experience tells all households there are receptive to new energy sources," said Ed Norton, a senior official at TNC.

The two grants were made available as part of the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air, which was launched by about 70 public and private organizations at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002.

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