Source: Xinhua/Shanghai Daily | 2013-1-20 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
BEIJING is looking to restrict the number of vehicles on its roads on days when air quality is bad, under a new regulation released for comment yesterday.
This proposal to tackle pollution came as air quality in Beijing Municipality reached dangerous levels again, after a few days of blue skies.
Smog began to cover the city on Friday night, with PM2.5 readings of 300 and 400 micrograms per cubic meter of air, or Level VI, a dangerous level, said Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center statistics.
PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter. These tiny particles are considered among the most harmful as they can travel deep into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure is linked to respiratory and other problems.
Air quality is considered good when readings are 50 or below but hazardous at between 301 and 500. The Beijing weather forecast bureau issued yellow alerts for fog and haze yesterday.
Visibility in the city's southern region was less than 500 meters yesterday. Beijing environmental protection departments advised residents, especially the elderly and children, to stay indoors.
Under the Beijing Municipal Air Pollution Control Regulation draft released by the municipal government, a certain number of vehicles would have to stay off the road during heavy air pollution in order to protect the health of residents.
The draft stipulates emergency preparation, forecasts, alerts and a response system for heavy air pollution.
Under such circumstances, the municipal government will issue air pollution notices and take emergency measures, such as suspension of factory production and a reduction in the number of vehicles on roads, the draft says.
The regulation is jointly drafted by the municipal government and the city's people's congress.
Snow was forecast overnight for Beijing, which should improve air quality.
Beijingers had endured heavy smog for a week until Wednesday, when winds and a cold front dispersed it.
Air quality indices exceeding the "maximum" level of 500 were recorded in the capital and other cities in central and north China.
Air quality in Shanghai was rated at slightly polluted yesterday by the city meteorological station.
At 9am, the air quality index stood at 148, while the PM2.5 reading was 125.2mcg per cubic meter, said officials.
The highest readings were recorded in Yangpu District and the lowest in Putuo District, they added.