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  Shandong to make air-quality jargon simpler  

  

 

The smog that has shrouded many Chinese cities this winter has made air quality a buzz topic and made the technical jargon of pollutant measurement more common terms among people.

  JINAN, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- The smog that has shrouded many Chinese cities this winter has made air quality a buzz topic and made the technical jargon of pollutant measurement more common terms among people.

  Environmental authorities in Shandong province in east China are translating this jargon into layperson-friendly expressions, making it easier for the public to monitor government efforts to fight pollution.

  Starting next year, Shandong will use "blue sky with white clouds and twinkling stars" to report air quality, not just data about pollutant contents in the air, which can be esoteric to the general public.

  Compared with the contents of sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide, the descriptive of "blue sky with white clouds and twinkling stars" obviously presents a clear image.

  "People can easily gauge air quality through their own eyes based on whether they can see a blue sky with white clouds in daytime and twinkling stars at night," said Zhang Bo, head of the provincial environmental protection department.

  Visibility will be used as reference to decide whether air quality meets the new standard.

  For instance, if visibility in Jinan, the provincial capital, is greater than 10 kilometers, the air quality can be reported as "blue sky with white clouds and twinkling stars."

  "The 10-kilometer standard is from our past research experience," Zhang said.

  He said his research team is working on a program to find out the relations between visibility and PM2.5, PM10, humidity as well as temperature, which experts believe could help improve the standard.

  Many Chinese cities have been cloaked in haze from time to time this winter, which has deepened pubic concerns over air quality. The official air quality index classifies the pollution as "light," which contradicts what many people experience.

  People have become upset after learning that in Beijing the U.S. Embassy's air quality rating classified the city's air quality as "hazardous."

  One reason for the discrepancy is that China's official index doesn't include PM2.5 - a tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter or one-twentieth the average width of a human hair.

  After a public outcry urging the government to include PM2.5 in the official standards, the Ministry of Environmental Protection in November announced plans to factor PM2.5 into new air quality standards -- but not until 2016.

  However, Shandong, the county's largest sulfur-dioxide emitter, is moving faster.

  The province's 144 monitoring stations in 17 cities will be equipped with devices and start monitoring PM2.5 next year, Zhang said.

  Meanwhile, Shandong is stepping up efforts to fight pollution. The provincial environmental department has started making stricter rules to cut emissions and plans to control dust in cities.

  By 2015, the province is expected to reduce pollutants in its 17 cities by 20 percent compared with 2010.

 

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