Chinese Air Pollution Update: Ministry of Environmental Protection Proposes Additional Regulation for Particulates

Just last week the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) announced public consultation for new regulations that would establish a standard for small particulate matter (PM 2.5), an important public health advance. China’s official media outlet Xinhua reported the new standard, which MEP proposes bringing into effect nationwide by 2016, and that Shanghai believes its monitoring capacity is sufficiently ahead of this timeline to implement as early as next year. We have heard elsewhere that Beijing, too, is likely to move earlier than 2016. MEP’s announcement and an FAQ describing the policy are already on the web in Chinese, but the English-language website has not yet been updated. The Xinhua report also noted the importance of public pressure in bringing about environmental improvements.

If enacted, the new standards would be in line with WHO interim-1 recommendations, which suggest a four-stage phase-in process for developing countries implementing PM 2.5 standards. As discussed last week, PM 2.5 is not controlled directly, but rather by controlling the precursor chemicals that create PM 2.5 through chemical reactions. New regulation in the 12th Five Year Plan, including additional control of SO2 (begun in the 11th Five Year Plan), new controls on NOx, and new Regional Air Quality Management regulations, provide policymakers with a number of new tools for addressing this issue.

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