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A woman stands on an overhead bridge on a hazy day in Beijing's central business district, on July 28, 2012. (JASON LEE /REUTERS)

China expands pollution monitoring to biggest cities

By Lucy Hornby | 2 January 2013

(Reuters) – China plans to release hourly air pollution monitoring data in 74 of its biggest cities starting on New Year’s Day, state media said on Sunday, in a sign of increasing responsiveness to quality-of-life concerns among prosperous urban people.

Choking pollution and murky grey skies in Chinese cities is a top gripe among both Chinese and expatriates.

Microscopic pollutant particles in the air have killed about 8,600 people prematurely this year and cost $1 billion in economic losses in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi’an, according to a study by Beijing University and Greenpeace that measured the pollutant levels of PM2.5, or particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

The new monitoring will include not only PM2.5, but also sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide, the Xinhua news agency said, citing a Friday announcement by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Data will be collected from 496 monitoring stations, it said.

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