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Fireworks heavily pollute Beijing

BEIJING – Clouds of smoke from Lunar New Year fireworks sent air pollution in Beijing soaring under a new, more sensitive measurement system, reports said today.

Readings of fine particulate matter called PM2.5 reached 1.593 milligrams per cubic meter on the Jan. 22 eve of the holiday, about 100 times worse than the amount considered good for 24-hour exposure, the city’s environmental bureau said.

The reading drew wide publicity in the local media. The popular Beijing Youth Daily praised the city government for taking a more critical look at air pollution, while urging residents to consider the environmental effects of setting off fireworks.

Concern has grown over air pollution from automobiles and other sources, prompting the city this month to begin announcing measurements of PM2.5 – particles less than 2.5 micrometers in size. That’s about 1/30th the width of an average human hair.

Because of their small size, the particles can lodge deeply in the lungs and are believed to pose the greatest risk to health.