China’s Hebei province keeps close watch on air pollutants

North China’s Hebei province, aiming for a 40 per cent cut in PM 2.5 density by 2020 compared to 2013 levels, has set up more stations to precisely monitor pollutants in the air to fight against smog.

PM 2.5 are airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter.

Aiming to set up a province-wide network, the Hebei Provincial Environment Protection Department has since the beginning of this year ordered several cities to install devices to collect air pollution data.

Handan, one of the first group of cities to trial the precision of monitoring network, has installed 196 stations for air data collection, Xinhua quoted officials with the city’s Environment Protection Bureau as saying.

Sensors have been put up near key industrial plants, main thoroughfares and airways in the city to collect data on six main types of pollutants — sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and two sizes of particulate matter.

Dust and volatile organic chemicals sensors have been installed near large construction sites and gas stations.

“If certain data goes high, our staff will respond immediately, track the source and send inspectors to intervene,” said Gao Feng, Deputy Director of Handan Environment Monitoring Centre.

“In July, several monitoring stations reported high carbon monoxide levels. We immediately studied the data, and found the source of pollution was a steel factory to the north.”

Feng added the “steel factory is far from the city and if it were not for the data, it would be hard to tell the cause”.

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