SHANGHAI is aiming to be one of the first cities in China to adopt a stricter air quality monitoring system before it is introduced nationwide in 2016, the city's environmental watchdog said yesterday.
The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said it was in the process of completing PM2.5 monitoring facilities across the city and would be aiming to include a PM2.5 index in its forecasts before 2016.
PM2.5 refers to harmful polluting particulates smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter and they are one of the causes of dust-haze weather conditions.
However, Chinese cities currently adopt the less sensitive PM10 standard, which often leads to official information about air quality being at odds with people's experience.
Launched in 1982 and amended in 2000, the nation's air quality standard hasn't changed since then.
Meanwhile, air quality in many of China's cities has seen a marked decline.
In recent months haze and fog across the country has been a topic of public debate and a Ministry of Environmental Protection survey found that the majority of responders favored the introduction of the stricter PM2.5 standard.
The ministry is encouraging cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and those in the Yangtze Delta and Zhujiang Delta regions to be among the first to adopt the new system.
So far, Shanghai has 24 monitoring sites for PM2.5, most of which have been in use for less than a year, said Fu Qingyan, senior engineer at the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center.
"Most of the sensors are still in the testing phase during the year and we have not yet got systematic data of PM2.5," Fu said yesterday.
Fu said particulates smaller than 2.5 microns play a key role in air quality and the adoption of the new standard would make people care more about the air quality and environment protection.
"The particulates are invisible but cause polluting conditions such as dust-haze," Fu said. "The new standard should make people pay more attention to air quality, which should be good for environmental protection."
Compared to Beijing, Shanghai's air quality has been stable in recent years, Fu said.
Shanghai has more rainfall, which helps to disperse the tiny particles, Fu added.