(November 16, 2011) Residents of Beijing and other Chinese cities are pushing for better air quality monitoring, as PM2.5 levels are now either not monitored or not made public.
In Beijing, the American embassy and the China Environment Bureau both monitor air quality, but the embassy has often reported hazardous air quality while the Chinese authority reports just light pollution. A few weeks ago, Beijing property tycoon Pan Shiyi started a popular campaign for the Chinese authority to monitor PM2.5 levels as the American embassy does, rather than larger PM10 particles. Now the air-quality monitoring center has announced that it will open to the public every week. A Guangzhou paper revealed that Guangdong Province has been monitoring PM2.5 levels since 2007, but kept them secret; and an officer at the Nanjing Meteorological Bureau who leaked PM2.5 information was then disciplined.
In related news, Beijing has shut down 155 coal-fired boilers, replacing them with gas and electronic ones, to improve its air quality. And the Ministry of Environmental Protection has announced that it is revising China’s air quality standards, and that the new evaluation system will take public opinion into account. Yang Yang of NGO Friends of Nature said, however, that the proposal to include public opinion lacks detail.