Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Beijing’s Air Quality Plunges After Fireworks

Shi Jiangtao in Beijing, SCMP – Updated on Feb 11, 2009

Beijing’s air quality plunged to its worst level since the Olympics yesterday after a night of frenzied fireworks displays marking the end of the Lunar New Year on Monday. The city was blanketed in heavy, choking smog, with visibility significantly reduced and the burning smell of fireworks lingering in the air until noon yesterday.

The air pollution index, which measures major pollutants from noon to noon, hit 307 – considered “very polluted” by national standards and the worst since June.

Although it is no secret that Beijing’s air quality has been deteriorating markedly over recent months since the Olympics, yesterday’s pollution reading surprised even the city’s environmental watchdog.

Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the city’s environmental bureau, said massive fireworks displays were to blame for the heavy pollution.

“We haven’t seen such poor air quality since May 29 last year, when the city was hit by heavy pollution,” he said. “Fireworks to celebrate the Lantern Festival [the 15th day of the Lunar New Year] plus stagnant weather have made things worse.

But he denied that the fire that gutted the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the new China Central Television headquarters complex had played a big role.

“It certainly affected the air quality across that area, but it is difficult to see if it has had an impact on the air pollution reading for the whole city,” he said.

Mr Du’s office released a statement yesterday citing detailed statistics from various monitoring stations across the city.

It said air quality had deteriorated dramatically when fireworks began after sunset on Monday.

The reading of PM10, measuring the concentration of particles of 10 microns or more, peaked at about 9pm at 810 micrograms per cubic metre.

The pollution figure dropped a little after midnight when the fireworks stopped but remained high because there was little wind.

At least 10 monitoring stations near the city centre recorded figures designated as “heavily polluted”.

According to the watchdog, a rating of less than 100 is generally considered acceptable, while 101 to 300 is unhealthy and polluted, and above 300 is heavily polluted.

The air pollution index for earlier in the day on Monday was 112.

Comments are closed.