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2-day air quality forecasts on way
By Yang Jian

TWO-DAY air quality forecasts will be available before the end of the year, the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said yesterday.

The reports will help people to better protect themselves against pollution, Zhang Quan, the bureau’s director, told Shanghai Daily on the sidelines of the ongoing Shanghai People’s Congress.

Twenty-four-hour air quality forecasts have been available since September 2013.

At 5pm daily, the bureau releases the air quality index figure and main pollutant for the night ahead and following day. The information is made available to the public via its website, Weibo and WeChat accounts, and on the radio.

Zhang said the bureau is also planning to release a smartphone app that can be used to access real-time air quality data for specific locations.

Similar programs already on the market are unauthorized, he said.

As well as reporting on air pollution this year, officials will continue to do their best to fight it, Zhang said.

“The bureau will continue to use an iron hand to eliminate high-polluting vehicles and coal-fired boilers at factories,” he said.

Zhang’s comments came just hours after air pollution levels in the city soared to nearly 15 times the World Health Organization’s safe level.

Further to the promised two-day air quality forecasts, Zhang said the bureau has begun trials of a five-day prediction system.

“The accuracy of the forecasts are being tested,” he said.

Meanwhile, the city’s meteorological bureau is planning to introduce an “Asthma Risk” index geared specifically toward children and seniors.

A trial has begun in selected schools and neighborhoods in Minhang District and the Pudong New Area, bureau director Chen Zhenlin said yesterday.

The bureau is also working with environmental protection and medical authorities to study the impact of pollution on people’s health.

Meanwhile, legislators yesterday called for stricter laws on the use of fireworks during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

The curbs should be geographically wider ranging and remain in place for more hours of the day, Jin Yonghong said yesterday.

Although high concentrations of pollutants from fireworks increase the density of fine particles, under current rules, they are banned only on days that are deemed seriously polluted, Zhang said.


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