China Bans Fireworks to Save Air Quality on Holidays
    2014-01-17 20:04:19         Web Editor: Wang

This image shows children set off firecrackers during the Spring Festival. [Photo: Shenyang Daily]

City residents are being asked to celebrate Chinese New Year with less of a bang than in the past in an effort to reduce pollution and safeguard health.

Li Dong has more.


The Chinese have a tradition of celebrating the Lunar New Year with firecrackers and fireworks, hoping the noise will fend off evil spirits and bad luck. The sky decorated with illuminating fireworks is an amazing spectacle that happens only once a year.

"I like setting off firecrackers. It's the symbol of celebrating the New Year. I also like the fireworks because of their many brilliant colors."

But environmental experts warn that fireworks create smog and release harmful substances.

They say that, when ignited, gunpowder releases many chemical compounds similar to motor vehicle emissions, creating hazy conditions.

Authorities in Beijing said earlier that firework celebrations will be canceled if serious air pollution is forecast for the Lunar New Year, a festival that usually features massive use of pyrotechnics.

The firework firestorm last year in Beijing led to a surge in the PM 2.5 reading to more than 500 micrograms per cubic meter on Lunar New Year's Eve.

Shanghai just experienced one of its most polluted months in December, with only eight days reportedly having decent air quality.

On the eve of the 2013 Chinese New Year last February, the index of PM2.5 pollutants -- particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that are considered especially harmful -- soared to 524 micrograms per cubic meter around midnight.

A local Beijing resident says celebrating the Lunar New Year should not be come at the cost of poor air quality and people's declining health.

"Setting off fireworks is a tradition during Chinese New Year and it creates an atmosphere of celebration. The sound of the firecrackers makes me feel that this is a New Year, but setting off too many of them is inappropriate, given the severity of the air pollution -- setting off a little bit will be just fine."

Efforts are also being made to provide cleaner alternatives to traditional fireworks.

Local fireworks company Jinqilin, responsible for supplying fireworks to the city's retailers, said it would introduce a new type of "green" pyrotechnic this year, which they claim will account for half the wholesale market.

For CRI, I am Li Dong.


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The Beijing Hour updated 20:00 2014/05/23

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