China Environmental News Digest

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Beijingers see air quality improving

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2008-04-02 15:07

An increasing number of Beijing residents are content with the improving air quality of the city, as it is in full swing to stage the upcoming Olympic Games in August.

The National Stadium is seen in this file photo taken in Beijing on March 13, 2008. An increasing number of Beijing residents are content with the improving air quality of the city, as it is in full swing to stage the upcoming Olympic Games in August. [Asianewsphoto]

Two thirds of Beijing respondents, or 66 percent of the investigated during a recent survey, done by the Gallup Poll, say the problem of the city's air pollution has turned for the better, up significantly from 53 percent in 2006.

Beijing experienced more blue-sky days than the corresponding periods of the past nine years, an official said on Tuesday.

Blue-sky days is a term used by China's environmental administration to refer to days when the Air Pollution Index is below 101 on a scale of 1 to 500.

The Olympic host city recorded 67 such days in the quarter, 12 more than in the same period last year, vice-director of the Beijing environmental protection bureau Du Shaozhong said.

The results were testimony to the city's efforts to improve air quality, he said.

The notorious sand storms, which used to blanket Beijing during early spring season, have not come this year. On the contrary, sunny days and spring blossoms have cheered Beijing residents and visitors up.

Some Olympic athletes have cited concerns about air quality as a reason for possibly skipping some of Olympic events they would normally compete in this summer.

Although the International Olympic Committee's top medical official, Arne Ljungqvist, admitted pollution could affect athletes' performance in some cases, he said that the pollution levels posed no serious danger to them, said a report on the website of Gallup.

In an effort to meet World Health Organization standards for air pollution and to live up to promises of a "Green Olympics," Beijing authorities has implemented new car emission standards on March 1 that now match those currently used in the European Union. And, the city will restrict the total vehicles running on the streets, starting from July.

With only a few months left before the Olympics begin, Chinese authorities hope their efforts to reduce air pollution in Beijing will prove successful.

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