BEIJING, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- News spread quickly Wednesday evening on Weibo, a Twitter-style microblogging service in China, about the State Council including PM2.5 into the national air quality standards and that authorities would start monitoring it soon.
A stirring campaign on the country's social network websites since last autumn seemed to have gained a satisfying response from the country's policymakers.
As one of the first to bring the topic up publicly, real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi expressed his surprise about the decision in his microblog, "The order from the State Council? Was I dazzled?"
"Good news, applause," posted Xu Xiaonian, the renowned economist, in his microblog.
The State Council on Wednesday passed revised air quality standards which include an index for PM2.5, or fine particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter.
The new standards include indices for the concentration of PM2.5 and ozone (O3) over a period of eight hours, according to a statement from the State Council issued after a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.
The country's highest state administrative body said the government planned to monitor PM2.5 in four municipalities, 27 provincial capitals, as well as three key regions -- east China's Yangtze River Delta, south China's Pearl River Delta, and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area in the north, in 2012.
In 2013, the monitoring will be extended to 113 model cities on the state environmental protection list, and to all cities at prefecture level or above in 2015.
Only several months ago, PM2.5 was still a term for environment scientists and few expected such a concrete action would be made soon.
For years China's environment authorities have monitored PM10, which gauges particular matter under 10 micrometers, as a key index for air quality.
The government reading, sometimes contrary to citizens' personal feelings, roused wide concerns after environmental activists, media people and opinion leaders brought this topic on microblogs.
On Sina Weibo only, more than 1 million microblogs have been posted concerning the issue.
Many volunteered to document air quality of their cities with pictures and environmentalist groups even started monitoring PM2.5 by their own device.
The public have learned from experts and activists debating the issue online. Now many taxi drivers can say something about particulate matter.
In response to the Internet lobbying, the Ministry of Environmental Protection published a draft of the revised air quality standards in November and adopted it in December.
In January, Beijing's environment authority launched the much-anticipated PM2.5 measure of air quality.
"Leaders' wisdom counts. And credit also goes to billions of netizens," Pan commented in his microblog.