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Shanghai to begin PM2.5 pollution monitoring, after much whining over price

Jan 6, 2012

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By Benjamin Cost

Shanghai will finally install PM2.5 air-quality monitoring equipment after more than two months since it pledged to do so.

With the system’s launch, the city will join a league of regions spanning Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Yangtze River Delta, Zhujiang River Delta and elsewhere preparing to employ the PM2.5 monitor this year. Next year, the standard will encompass 113 new cities and by 2016, all of China will be covered.

What was the big holdup? According to Ministry of Environmental Protection authorities, their bellyaching over the exorbitant expense of implementation was the main hindrance to following through with the project:

One set of PM2.5 equipment cost at least 80,000 yuan (US$12,710), while the most expensive could cost 380,000 yuan. Provinces haven’t included the cost in their 2012 budget as PM2.5 and ozone monitoring was only recently mentioned by the ministry.

Zhu (a ministry official) said the country’s investment on such equipment could total more than 2 billion yuan.

Fu Qingyan, chief engineer of the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center, said the city hasn’t included the equipment in this year’s budget but the city government has already agreed on the extra expenditure.

Not only has Shanghai smog failed to fall in line with the PM2.5 threshold since 2005, but the watchdog (a bullshit-su, we assume) has been about as transparent as Shanghai air when it comes to relaying the present system’s readings.

Monitoring PM2.5 particles or those measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter is a bigger deal than their microscopic nature would suggest. For all you laymen out there (which by now probably only includes fresh Shanghai arrivals), PM2.5 particles are microscopic pollutants able to infiltrate our respiratory and circulatory systems and cause long-term health issues and even premature fatalities. The current system in place in Shanghai only measures PM10 particles.

But thankfully, Shanghai officials have, albeit begrudgingly, prioritized the public’s health and safety above cost considerations – something that the city has struggled with for what seems like an eternity. Now, if only their pollution reports couldactually line up with those of the PM2.5 system itself.

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