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China to Unify Color-coded Pollution Alert System
   2014-12-03 13:59:06    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Fu

China's Environmental Protection Ministry is demanding domestic cities to adopt a unified color-coded alert system on air pollution, the Beijing News reports.

Cities have been instructed to use an alert system that uses blue, yellow, orange and red to mark the different levels of air pollution.

But different standards for issuing air pollution alerts have led to confusion and complaints among the public, the ministry says.

An anonymous official said a unified alert system is needed especially in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River delta and the Pearl River delta areas, where there are clusters of big cities.

The ministry also demands cities to come up with more accurate forecasts on smoggy days and draft better contingency plans to handle the smog situation.

The ministry will issue a set of guidelines for cities to follow when drafting their contingency plans.

Beijing, one of the cities that suffers most severe air pollution in the country, launched its air pollution contingency plan in 2013.

Beijing's four-grade alert system is based on the air quality index (AQI), which indicates how clean or polluted the air is. It is calibrated as follows.

101-150                                                        slight pollution                                                 
151-200                                                             moderate pollution                                          
201-300                                                             heavy pollution                                                 
301-500                                                             hazardous                                                          

As of the end of October 2014, the city has issued 9 blue alerts, 10 yellow alerts, 2 orange alerts but no red alerts.

Beijing's contingency plan to deal with different levels of smog is as follows:

Blue alert:

Heavy pollution in the next 24 hours.

Factories are suggested to curb pollutant emission.

Yellow alert:

Hazardous air quality in the next 24 hours; or heavy pollution for three consecutive days.

Streets should be cleaned and sprinkled with water more often; quarries are to suspend part of their operations; cover up or sprinkle water on construction sites to curb pollution.

Orange alert:

Alternate heavily polluted and hazardous days for three consecutive days.

Suspend all operations at quarries and construction sites; stop transportation vehicles that could leave dust; partial or complete shutdown of factories; ban fireworks and outdoor barbecues; schools and kindergartens are asked to cancel outdoor activities; all measures taken against the yellow alert are also applicable.

Red alert:

Hazardous days for three consecutive days.

schools and kindergartens are shut down; flexible work hours at public organizations, enterprises; warnings issued to cancel large-scale outdoor activities; odd-even number traffic restriction; reduce the number of public service vehicles by 30%; all the measures taken against the orange alert are also applicable.

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