Pol­lu­tion fears dampen fire­works sales

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CAO YIN in Bei­jing and WU YIYAO in Shang­hai

Fire­works sales fell sharply in Bei­jing dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val, with more peo­ple shun­ning them be­cause of air pol­lu­tion con­cerns.

Res­i­dents in the cap­i­tal bought 195,000 boxes of fire­works from Lu­nar New Year’s Eve on Jan 30 to Feb 4, a de­cline of 38 per­cent from the same pe­riod last year, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the mu­nic­i­pal pub­lic se­cu­rity bureau.

Fire­works were also set off for shorter pe­ri­ods dur­ing the hol­i­day, the bureau said, adding there had been no re­ports of deaths or eye in­juries.

Over the six days, 108 peo­ple were in­jured set­ting off fire­works in the city, a de­cline of 34.5 per­cent on last year, the bureau added.

Lu­nar New Year is tra­di­tion­ally cel­e­brated with fire­works to add to the fes­tive at­mos­phere and to fend off evil spir­its and bad luck.

How­ever, be­fore Spring Fes­ti­val this year, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists called on res­i­dents via so­cial me­dia to cut spend­ing on fire­works and re­duce their use, be­cause of con­cerns about air pol­lu­tion.

Zhao Hui­jin, 26, who lives in Chaoyang dis­trict, was among those who chose not to set off fire­works. She told China Daily on Thurs­day she thought that fewer peo­ple in her com­mu­nity set off fire­works dur­ing the hol­i­day.

“This was be­cause of in­creas­ing aware­ness about en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. Ev­ery­one in the city has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to fight against sooty air,” she said.

Li Shuang, 25, who lives in Haid­ian dis­trict, agreed with Zhao. He said he slept well on

Air qual­ity has been quite good in re­cent days with­out in­ten­sive fire­works in the down­town area.” LI YU SHANG­HAI RES­I­DENT

Lu­nar New Year’s Eve, which had not been pos­si­ble in re­cent years be­cause of noise from fire­works.

“It was so noisy in the past that I had to wear earplugs, as many peo­ple set off fire­works in my com­mu­nity day and night,” he said. “But this year there was not as much noise, and there were fewer fire­work sell­ers on the streets.”

The cap­i­tal’s fire­works au­thor­ity said there were 1,178 fire­works stores in Bei­jing this year, a fall of 12 per­cent on last year.

A saleswoman in Wenx­ueguan Road in Chaoyang dis­trict said Spring Fes­ti­val busi­ness had been slug­gish this year.

“Few peo­ple came to buy,” said the woman, who de­clined to be iden­ti­fied, adding that she had to of­fer dis­counts.

In ad­di­tion to Bei­jing, res­i­dents in Shang­hai re­ceived text mes­sages from the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties sug­gest­ing they re­duce fire­works spend­ing dur­ing the hol­i­day be­cause of en­vi­ron­men­tal and safety con­cerns.

“Air qual­ity has been quite good in re­cent days with­out in­ten­sive fire­works in the down­town area,” said 56-year-old Shang­hai res­i­dent Li Yu.

The city’s san­i­ta­tion au­thor­ity said work­ers cleared about 800 met­ric tons of waste from fire­works on Tues­day, about 20 per­cent less than last year.

In ad­di­tion, Shang­hai can ex­pect to see sul­fur-free fire­works next year, as man­u­fac­tures have de­vel­oped prod­ucts with low emis­sions.

More Shang­hai res­i­dents may choose to buy the new type of fire­works af­ter se­ri­ous smog hit the city re­cently, said Wu Guo’an, spokesman for the city’s fire­works dis­tri­bu­tion as­so­ci­a­tion. Con­tact the writ­ers at caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn and wuyiyao@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

SONG JIARU / FOR CHINA DAILY

Waste from fire­works in Bei­jing has been re­duced due to peo­ple’s ris­ing aware­ness of air pol­lu­tion.

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