En­vi­ron­ment ex­perts look into high lev­els of sul­fur in Lin­fen

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By SUN RUISHENG in Taiyuan and ZHENG JINRAN in Bei­jing

The cen­tral en­vi­ron­men­tal au­thor­ity and Shanxi provin­cial gov­ern­ment have sent ex­perts to un­cover the rea­sons and pro­vide so­lu­tions for re­duc­ing the alarm­ingly high con­cen­tra­tion of sul­fur diox­ide in Lin­fen, Shanxi prov­ince, which has en­gulfed the north­ern city for days and raised health con­cerns.

The ex­perts have al­ready started thor­ough re­search on sources of pol­lu­tion in the city, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion on Thurs­day.

The city saw alarm­ingly high con­cen­tra­tions of sul­fur diox­ide in De­cem­ber, reach­ing 348 mi­cro­grams per cu­bic me­ter, 4.8 times the na­tional stan­dard, ac­cord­ing to the city’s en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau, adding that the con­cen­tra­tion had soared to 1,303 mg per cu­bic me­ter at 11 pm on Jan 4.

Sul­fur diox­ide is a gas usu­ally gen­er­ated by the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els such as coal and oil. Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, high lev­els of sul­fur diox­ide can harm the res­pi­ra­tory sys­tem, sug­gest­ing that long-term lev­els should be be­low 20, and that peo­ple should not be ex­posed to con­cen­tra­tions ex­ceed­ing 500 for more than 10 min­utes.

Coal con­sump­tion has been sug­gested as a ma­jor source of the ex­ces­sive sul­fur diox­ide emis­sions in Lin­fen.

“About 70 per­cent of its emis­sions come from coal con­sump­tion in house­holds for heat­ing in win­ter,” Zhang Wen­qing, deputy head of the en­vi­ron­ment bureau, said af­ter res­i­dents ex­pressed con­cerns about the ex­tremely high pol­lu­tion lev­els.

In ad­di­tion, the dis­charge from in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion, in­clud­ing plants for power, iron and steel, is another ma­jor source, and a lack of wind has failed to dis­perse the se­vere pol­lu­tion, he added.

On Mon­day af­ter­noon, the deputy mayor of Lin­fen, Yan Jian­guo, apol­o­gized to the pub­lic for the re­cent high lev­els of sul­fur diox­ide.

He said the city would re­lease in­for­ma­tion about air pol­lu­tion in a more ef­fi­cient man­ner and work to con­trol the sources of harm­ful pol­lu­tants.

“The most ur­gent and ef­fec­tive mea­sure would be re­plac­ing the coal that has high sul­fur con­tent,” said Chai Fahe, a re­searcher at the China Re­search Acad­emy of En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences.

Zhang Lei, a lo­cal res­i­dent, said, “The pol­lu­tion from coal con­sump­tion has been a longex­ist­ing prob­lem”.

He had a sore throat for more than two weeks due to the pol­luted air. “I have seen no clear im­prove­ment in air qual­ity in re­cent years, so I hope the au­thor­i­ties help re­duce the alarm­ing pol­lu­tion.”

of sul­fur diox­ide emis­sions in Lin­fen come from coal con­sump­tion in house­holds for heat­ing in win­ter.

Con­tact the writ­ers at zhengjin­ran@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

XU YIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Peo­ple ex­er­cise in Lin­fen, Shanxi prov­ince, on Tues­day morn­ing. The slo­gan on the red ban­ner reads, “Pro­mote en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and say ‘No’ to smog”.

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