China Develops Unified Standards to Monitor and Curb Air Pollution
China needs to put in place a set of unified standards to effectively monitor and curb air pollution across the country.
This was among the key recommendations made by environmental experts as a strategy to coordinate the nation's anti-pollution efforts, China Daily reported.
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Specifically, the neighboring provinces of Shanxi, Shandong, and Henan provinces must establish common standards for both planning and control to address pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, according to Bao Jingling, a deputy to the National People's Congress and former chief engineer of the Tianjin Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection.
Bao explained that current geological and meteorological conditions have allowed airborne pollutants to travel from Shanxi, Shandong, and Henan to the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, and consequently, contributing to China's worsening air pollution.
He cited an instance in December where Tianjin's air quality deteriorated from "good" to "severely polluted" within three hours as air pollutants reached the city from the southwest.
"As pollution can travel across regions, we need standard systems that cover all these regions on issues such as emission standards, pollution discharge fees, fines for polluters and punishing polluters with administrative penalties," Bao said.
He likewise recommended the creation of an administrative body that will be tasked to manage air quality control among the concerned regions.
Based on Ministry of Environmental Protection data released last year, the density of PM2.5－fine particulate matter measuring 2.5microns or less in diameter that is hazardous to humans－was reduced by 7.8 percent to 71 micrograms per cubic meter in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as compared to the previous year.
In the meantime, Chinese residents are taking things into their own hands, as they undertake measures to protect themselves and their families from the hazards of air pollution, NPR reported.
For instance, Lan Yanfei, a resident of Beijing, decided to flee the city with her 3-year-old son after he got sick several times particularly during periods of heavy smog.
Lan explained that her son's health would always be her top priority and this is the reason why she did not mind sacrificing her career, education, and other opportunities.
"I felt it was very unsafe for me to leave my child in that environment," she said. "He's still so young, his body is still growing and the harm the pollution does to him may be irreparable."
When they left Beijing, Lan and her family initially moved to Yunnan Province in the southwest, and later on to Shenzhen city in the south. These areas in China have better air quality than Beijing, and air pollution is not considered a health hazard.