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Henan province bans fireworks ahead of Spring Festival

By Qi Xin and Shi Baoyin in Zhengzhou | | Updated: 2017-01-16 16:37

Henan province in Central China said over the weekend that it would ban all fireworks and firecrackers, effective Saturday.

A notice released by the province's environmental protection authority said the ban aims to cope with the "adverse effect of severe air pollution in winter".

Local governments at lower levels have been urged to release regulations banning fireworks and firecrackers and establish accountability mechanisms to make sure the ban is strictly implemented.

The notice did not say whether the ban was temporary or permanent.

Chen Runer, governor of Henan, said that the government would focus on the prevention and control of environmental pollution this year and make sure that concentrations of particle pollution decrease steadily.

The number of days with good air quality is expected to be more than 200 in 2017, according to the provincial government work report.

Tao Ye, director of the provincial environmental protection department's air pollution prevention and control section, said that when fireworks are set off, a large amount of soot is released and PM 2.5 (airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micros in diameter that are hazardous to health) levels can reach 500 micrograms per cubic meter instantly.

A ban on fireworks in Henan's cities was first put forward in 2015, according to Yang Jing, a member of the Henan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

He said that although industrial pollution and car exhaust emissions are among the main causes of smog, banning fireworks will increase environmental awareness.

"More and more people wear a mask outside on hazy days, including me. Protecting the air is the responsibility of all people," Yang said.

Zhang Chaoxiang, another member of the CPPCC Henan committee, said he was born in a village where setting off fireworks was an important part of Lunar New Year celebrations.

"The Spring Festival atmosphere is closely connected with the memory of setting off fireworks," he said.

"We still have a long way to go to deal with the causes of smog."

Wang Xin, 36, a villager in Wangzhai township in Ruzhou, Henan province, said Spring Festival would not be the same without fireworks, but the ban would be worth it if it resulted in clearer skies.

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