Shang­hai mech­a­nism low­ers thresh­olds for pre-warn­ings

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CHINA DAILY in Shang­hai

The en­vi­ron­men­tal author­ity in Shang­hai un­veiled an up­dated emer­gency re­sponse plan for se­vere air pol­lu­tion on Wed­nes­day, with an even more timely warn­ing mech­a­nism and im­proved re­sponse mea­sures.

The new emer­gency plan, launched by the Shang­hai En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Bureau, low­ered the thresh­olds for when pre-warn­ings can be launched, in­clud­ing a short-spell of heavy pol­lu­tion. It said that the real-time den­sity of PM2.5, a ma­jor air pol­lu­tant, was cho­sen as the main bench­mark.

Open-air bar­be­cues and burn­ing garbage out­doors are banned on heav­ily pol­luted days. Com­pa­nies in sec­tors in­clud­ing petro­chem­i­cals, steel, chem­i­cals, ce­ment, ship­build­ing, paint­ing, medicine, elec­tron­ics and heat treat­ment are re­quired to reduce or shut down pro­duc­tion on heav­ily pol­luted days.

“Peo­ple used to com­plain that the re­sponse plan of­ten lagged be­hind the pol­lu­tion. Draw­ing up the new plan in­volved tak­ing ci­ti­zens’ opin­ions into con­sid­er­a­tion and it will bring more benefits to their lives,” said Yang Xin, a pro­fes­sor at Fu­dan Univer­sity’s Depart­ment of En­v­i­ron- men­tal Science En­gi­neer­ing.

The new plan con­tin­ues a four-tier warn­ing sys­tem for se­vere pol­lu­tion, with red be­ing the most se­ri­ous, fol­lowed by orange, yel­low and blue. Over­all, the thresh­olds for is­su­ing air pol­lu­tion warn­ings have been low­ered, which means an­tipol­lu­tion mea­sures will be en­acted ear­lier.

Ac­cord­ing to the new plan, a red alert will be is­sued if the Air Qual­ity In­dex is fore­cast to ex­ceed 400 over the next 24 hours, lower than the pre­vi­ous level of 450. An orange alert will be is­sued when the daily AQI is fore­cast to be be­tween 301 and 400 for a day or be­tween 201 and 300 for three days in a row. The pre­vi­ous cri­te­rion was 301-450 for a day. If the AQI read­ing is be­tween 151 and 200, or short-time heavy pol­lu­tion is ex­pected, a blue alert will be is­sued.

The new plan also iden­ti­fies a broader range of pol­lu­tants and puts for­ward more strong-handed mea­sures in re­sponse to pol­lu­tion. Op­er­a­tions at a wider range of fac­to­ries that dis­charge pol­lu­tants will be sus­pended on smoggy days to cut emis­sions.

Wu Yi­wei con­trib­uted to this story.

YANG YI / FOR CHINA DAILY

A woman wears a mask in Shang­hai on Dec 5 as the city is hit by se­ri­ous air pol­lu­tion.

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