Henan: Chinese New Year loses its bang for cleaner air
ZHENGZHOU, Jan. 16 (PNA/Xinhua) -- People in central China's Henan province are likely to miss out on the fun of ushering in the Chinese New Year with a bang -- the noise of exploding firecrackers. The benefit? Cleaner air.
The province, like many others in northern China, fell victim to frequent bouts of toxic smog this winter, and has created an office to combat environmental pollution.
Director Tao Ye told Xinhua that the office had issued a directive to expand the existing firecracker ban in cities to all county-level towns for the upcoming Spring Festival.
Tao said that when firecrackers explode, they produce a large number of pollutants, such as dust, pushing the PM 10 levels to 1000 micrograms per cu. meter, and PM 2.5 levels to 400-500 micrograms per cu. meter.
PM 2.5 refers to floating particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 micrometers, and is a commonly cited smog pollution index. The particles carry harmful chemicals that can penetrate the lungs.
While emissions from heavy industries, coal-fired boilers, cars, and the burning of biofuels are considered the main causes of rising smog in northern China, intensive firecracker blasts can cause pollutant density to shoot up in a short time.
Tao said that last year, pollution levels were "beyond index" during Spring Festival, and it should not happen again.
"So this year, all county governments have signed a pledge with us to completely ban selling and using firecrackers at all times," he said.
Setting off firecrackers is a centuries-old tradition in China during the new year. Blasts can be heard day and night as people believe the noise will drive away bad spirits and bring good luck. (PNA/Xinhua)