translation of beijiing’s pm2.5 announcement

On January 6th, the Beijing EPB made a major announcement regarding the plan for monitoring and reporting PM2.5 this year. This is huge and terrific news, with most media sites characterizing the announcement as a clear and concrete result of the recent public outcry over Beijing’s air quality (for example, see BBC, Reuters, China Daily, AP, NYT, CNN, and two WSJ pieces: “Beijing Caves…” and “Beijing Bows…“).

Because this is such a big announcement, I’m going to translate the entire thing here. I wanted to do so because there are a lot of positive developments in the announcement that weren’t mentioned in most of the brief news stories, and also because I’ve noticed some minor mischaracterizations in the media about what it actually says.

The great news, only some of which was reported by the media (not by error, probably just because of space constraints) includes:

- In addition to PM2.5 reporting, hourly ozone reporting should also start by the end of the year;
- Individual, hourly data points for all stations will be reported as opposed to city-wide averages;
- The language used to describe the pollution will be changed (presumably to reflect the fact that “Blue Sky Days” here frequently aren’t, and China’s current designation of “slight pollution” is, well, not exactly slight.)

These are all enumerated in the final paragraph of the announcement, which reads like an awesomely affirmative response to a Beijing air quality information disclosure wish list.

My only minor complaint with the international coverage is that some of it implies that Beijing will begin widespread PM2.5 reporting by Spring Festival (a couple of weeks from now). Actually, the announcement only states that some “research-type” PM2.5 data will begin to be released by Spring Festival (to give credit, the BBC was the only media I read that really nailed this). Full PM2.5 reporting for the city will (hopefully) be completed by the end of the year. The announcement is filled with all sorts of caveats about how much work it will take, and about the need for the new national standards and relevant regulations to be released, etc. In other words, Beijing is very much downplaying the expectations here. Regardless, it’s still just wonderful news that has been a long time coming.

Anyway, onto the translation:

Translated by
Bold added by translator

Beijing EPB responds to journalists’ questions about launching PM2.5 monitoring and improving the system for air quality information disclosure

On January 5th, a representative from the Beijing EPB Environmental Monitoring Division answered journalists’ questions on Beijing’s plans to launch PM2.5 monitoring and improve the system for air quality information disclosure.

1. Regarding the status of Beijing’s air quality monitoring

In 1984, Beijing completed the initial phase of construction of an air quality monitoring system, and began operation. At that time there were 8 automatic air quality monitoring stations, mainly distributed in the 8 districts of the city at that time. Beginning in 2000, Beijing began expanding and improving the air quality monitoring system. By the time of the Olympics, Beijing had set up 27 automatic air quality monitoring stations spread out over all the districts and counties in the entire city, and had begun automatic monitoring. According to the requirements of the national ambient air quality monitoring regulations, concentrations of SO2, NO2, PM10, and other pollutants were automatically monitored 24 hours per day. Weekly reports, daily reports, and daily forecasts of air quality started in 1998, 1999, and 2001 respectively.

2. Regarding the status of developing PM2.5 monitoring in Beijing

Currently, Beijing has not comprehensively and systematically developed regular monitoring of PM2.5. In accordance with Beijing’s atmospheric pollution prevention program, since 2006 the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center began conducting research-type monitoring of PM2.5 using an integrated observation lab. After the Olympics, we selected a few atmospheric monitoring stations to develop staged research-type PM2.5 monitoring at different times.

3. Regarding plans for monitoring and reporting PM2.5

现在我们已经启动了PM2.5监测网络建设,计划年底前全部完成。根据建设进度,完成一个点站建设就发布一个点站监测信息,同时完善整体空气质量信息发布方式。计划在春节前,首先通过监测中心网站等实时发布各监测子站二氧化硫(SO2)、二氧化氮(NO2)、可吸入颗粒物(PM10)3项常规污染物每小时的浓度数据。同时公布综合观测实验室的PM2.5 研究性监测数据,供市民参考。国家新标准和相关监测规范发布后,将按照监测规范,利用现有仪器设备先在6个监测子站开展PM2.5监测,同时发布实时数据;根据监测设备采购、调试工作进展,会逐步增加PM2.5监测子站,力争年底前完成全市的PM2.5监测站点建设并发布实时监测数据。
We have already begun building the PM2.5 monitoring network, and plan to complete it by the end of the year. In accordance with the construction progress, as we complete each station, we will report that station’s monitoring information. In parallel, we will improve the overall method of reporting air quality information. First, before Spring Festival, we plan to report real-time, hourly concentration data for three pollutants – SO2, NO2, and PM10 -  through the website of the environmental monitoring center. At the same time, we will report the research-type monitoring data of PM2.5 from the integrated observation lab for the public to consult. After the national standard and relevant monitoring regulations have been issued, in accordance with the regulations, we will use existing PM2.5 monitoring equipment to begin monitoring PM2.5 at 6 monitoring stations, and simultaneously report real-time data. In accordance with progress on equipment procurement and adjustment, we will gradually increase the PM2.5 monitoring stations, trying very hard to finish the entire city’s monitoring stations and issuing their real-time monitoring data by the end of the year.

4. Regarding preparation work for developing PM2.5 monitoring

There are four aspects we need to prepare in order to launch PM2.5 monitoring. One, apply for funding and procure the monitoring equipment; two, optimize the placement of the monitoring network, construct the stations, computers, and debug the system; three, upgrade the website of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center and adjust the the information system for collecting and analyzing the air quality monitoring data; four, conduct staff training.

5. Regarding improving the system for air quality information disclosure

We are preparing to improve the method of air quality information disclosure from five aspects. In accordance with the new national standard and technical regulations for monitoring: one, disclose monitoring information from all pollutants obtained by the regular automatic monitor, including PM2.5 and ozone monitoring data; two, learning from international methods, change from the past method of strongly emphasizing the disclosure of one average data point for the city to disclosing the monitoring information from each station, in order that citizens can understand the air quality situation in the area in which they live; three, change from issuing only a daily 24-hour average to issuing hourly data for each pollutant for each station; four, entrust the Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center website to add a special platform for air quality information; fifth, change the notification language for air quality information disclosure in order to be closer to citizens’ lives and serve them better.

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