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Bureau Director: It Is Illegal for the U.S. Consulate to Release Air Quality Numbers

On June 1, 2012, China News reported that Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau Director Zhang Quan made some public comments about Shanghai’s air quality monitoring standards. He suggested in a news conference that it is illegal for the U.S. consulate in Shanghai to release Shanghai’s local PM2.5 air quality readings to the general public. He pointed out that the U.S. consulate measures local air quality with its own equipment. The Shanghai government does not currently release this number, but it plans to complete equipment testing in June. Shanghai is in the first group of Chinese cities that will actually provide PM2.5 numbers. The U.S. embassy in Beijing started releasing Beijing’s local PM2.5 numbers several years ago, but this is the first time a Chinese official suggested that it is illegal to do so. PM2.5 particles are air pollutants with particulate matter having a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, small enough to invade even the smallest airways. These particles generally come from activities that burn fossil fuels, such as traffic, smelting, and metal processing. 

(Ed: The U.S. rates pollution levels according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard that is more stringent than the one used by the Chinese government. On Tuesday, for example, the U.S. Embassy reported that the level was “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” while Beijing categorized the air quality as “good.”)

Sources: China News, June 1, 2012

Washington Post, June 4, 2012