Fire­works bans clear air, snuff mood

China Daily (Canada) - - HOLIDAY - By WANG ZHENGHUA

A down­town fire­works ban helped im­prove Shang­hai’s air qual­ity dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val, but res­i­dents also had mixed feel­ings about it.

Since 2016, sell­ing and set­ting off fire­works have been banned in­side the outer ring roads, an area that cov­ers al­most all down­town re­gions and a small part of the city’s sub­urbs.

As a re­sult, the air qual­ity in­dex re­mained lower than usual for this time of year, about 26 on Wed­nes­day, the Shang­hai En­vi­ron­men­tal Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­ter said.

The city’s hol­i­day AQI has been in the good to ex­cel­lent cat­e­gories, and the con­cen­tra­tion of danger­ous PM 2.5 par­ti­cles on Fri­day, Lu­nar New Year’s Eve, was lower than that of the same day in 2016, thanks to the ban and help­ful weather con­di­tions.

In ar­eas be­yond the outer ring roads, the use of fire­works dropped com­pared with the same pe­riod last year, with only 10 tons of fire­works trash col­lected on Fri­day in a city with a pop­u­la­tion of 24 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the Shang­hai Green and Ur­ban Ap­pear­ance Bureau.

Only seven re­tail out­lets were per­mit­ted to sell fire­crack­ers and fire­works in Shang­hai this year — all in re­mote ar­eas — down from 87 in 2016, 697 in 2015, and 1,400 in 2014.

Shang­hai po­lice said they cracked down on il­le­gal sales of fire­crack­ers this year, de­tain­ing a to­tal of 144 sus­pects and con­fis­cat­ing more than 11,460 cases of il­le­gally sold fire­crack­ers.

But Matt Saunders of the United States, who has lived in Shang­hai for more than 10 years, said he missed the days when he walked blocks to ad­mire the sea­son’s fire­works.

“It’s part of the cul­ture and brings a lot of fun,” he said. In the US big fire­works dis­plays are usu­ally held on July 4, and he said he would drive hours to see the dis­play in a big city.

Wang Hong­mao, a san­i­ta­tion worker who was col­lect­ing trash on West Jian­guo Road in down­town Shang­hai on Wed­nes­day, said the ban has helped re­duce his work­load.

In the years when fire­works were al­lowed, he had to work hard and spend four to five hours a day col­lect­ing trash left by res­i­dents who set off fire­crack­ers dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val.

“It’s es­pe­cially hard on rainy days when the pa­per scraps stick to the ground,” he added.

Now, col­lect­ing fire­works trash only takes about one hour of work, Wang said.

In Nan­jing, Hangzhou and Taiyuan, which adopted sim­i­lar fire­works bans, PM 2.5 lev­els re­mained low on Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

But in the ma­jor­ity of ci­ties where no ban or con­di­tional or par­tial bans were in place, in­clud­ing Bei­jing and Tian­jin, pol­lu­tion lev­els rose rapidly that day.

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