Source: Xinhua | 2013-2-2 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
AIR pollution concerns have prompted Beijing authorities to ask residents to set off fewer fireworks during the upcoming Spring Festival.
"To improve the air quality and create a favorable environment for you and your family members, please set off fewer fireworks or no fireworks, in order to reduce emissions of pollutants," an official with the Beijing Office on Fireworks and Firecrackers said yesterday.
The official said the office has closely followed Beijing's air quality reports and issued appeals to citizens via media.
Setting off firecrackers and fireworks during the Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, on February 10 this year, is an old tradition. To reduce accidents and the impact on citizens' lives, Beijing restricts fireworks within certain areas during a 16-day period around the Spring Festival.
Three fireworks retailers in Beijing have 750,000 cartons of fireworks in stock for this year's festival, down from 810,000 cartons in 2012. The number of shops approved to sell fireworks in Beijing has been reduced from 1,429 to 1,337, the official said.
After an hours-long firework-ignition spree on the eve of the Lunar New Year in 2012, the density of PM2.5 increased sharply to hit 1,593 micrograms per cubic meter at the Chegongzhuang monitoring station, located downtown, or 1.5 times higher than the most polluted day so far this year in Beijing.
Prolonged smog in much of north and east China in January sparked debate over holiday fireworks. From January 1 to 28, Beijing had 23 smoggy days, 10 more than that period in the past 10 years and the most since 1954.