BEIJING, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- China's meteorological authorities will forecast the nation's air quality from Jan. 29 to Feb. 14 to help reduce air pollution caused by lunar new year fireworks, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said on Tuesday.
Fireworks, a Chinese New Year tradition to ward off evil spirits, have been blamed for emissions of dust and sulfur dioxide and serious regional air pollution.
According to air quality records of Beijing, Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province, local PM2.5 readings, which measure particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers, rose sharply during past festive seasons, when people flocked outside to set off fireworks.
The concentration of PM2.5 in downtown Beijing hit 1,486 micrograms per cubic meter on Lunar New Year's Eve in 2012, surging 1,100 micrograms per cubic meter in one hour, said Chen Zhenlin, an official with the CMA.
The authorities will release a four-grade meteorological index combining factors such as the diffusion of contaminants, wind, humidity and precipitation. The index will serve as a reference for air pollution risk assessment, according to Chen.
The CMA said that in most areas, weather will not be suitable for setting off fireworks, as mild fog is expected to shroud the southern parts of north China, as well as the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and southwestern Sichuan province during the first two days of the holiday, which starts Jan. 31.