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Chinese Lunar New Year celebrated with Beijing’s cleanest air on record

Fireworks ban improves level of pollutants in the atmosphere above one of the world’s smoggiest capitals.

The decision to prohibit the use of pyrotechnics came as the city prepares for the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which begin on Friday 4th February. Ahead of the games opening, China has been marking the arrival of the Lunar New Year on 1st February. 

Traditionally, this has been a time when the use of fireworks at home dramatically increases, but authorities issued an order outlawing their use, aside from sanctioned public displays, in a bid to improve overall air quality around the occasion. 

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The results point to a significant improvement, with concentrations of small, hazardous airborne particles – PM2.5 – measuring 5 micrograms per cubic metre. This compares to 289 micrograms for the same days in 2021, and represents the lowest levels since records began nine years ago.

Curbs on the sale of fireworks have been in place beyond the capital, too, with cities such as Zhangjiakou, where several Winter Olympics events will be held, following suit. It’s important to note that official statements have not directly linked new fireworks rules to the games. However, environmental officials issued a weather warning last week, advising conditions would impede efforts to keep air clean during the 16-day sporting spectacular. 

In areas close to games venues some polluting firms have been forced to cease activities, while clean energy consumption has also been boosted with the hopes of further improving the situation. In related news, 2021 saw Beijing meet national standards on air quality for the first time ever.

Image credit: Zhang Kaiyv

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