Haze raises questions on air quality

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-02 10:44

GUANGZHOU: Public concerns about air quality before next year's Asian Games have grown stronger after this southern city reported days of heavy haze and dust last week.

The Guangdong provincial capital reported up to three consecutive days of haze and dust last week, the heaviest in the last decade, sources with the weather authority in Guangdong said.

"How can government authorities say the air quality has improved in recent years?" said Huang Yunwen, a 63-year-old resident.

The provincial environmental authority said on Monday that air quality had improved in recent years, with hazy days reduced from 123 in 2007 to 110 last year.

Days with haze and dust were also reduced from 96 in the first half of last year to 46 in the same period this year, according to the authority.

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"But officials do not explain why we were experiencing the worst air quality last week," said Huang, who was walking in Yuexiu park yesterday afternoon.

Thanks to a cold front from the north, the city finally witnessed a clean sky after the weekend.

The local government has pledged to ensure at least 96 percent of days with better air quality next year when the 16th Asian Games are held.

"But it remains a hard job for the government to realize the goal if no prompt effective measures are taken ahead of the Games," Huang said.

In another development, the provincial environmental authority will hold public hearings over construction of a planned major garbage incinerator that had aroused strong protest from local residents, said Li Qing, director of Guangdong provincial administration of environmental protection.

"We plan to hold public hearings after the environmental assessment report is submitted," Li said.

The results of the assessment will also be made public to solicit opinions, he added.