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Stricter fireworks control promises quieter festival

Zheng Jinran
Updated: Feb 6,2015 7:54 AM     China Daily

Staff workers of a fireworks company transport its products in Haidian district in Beijing on Feb 3. Firecrackers sales will begin on Feb 13 and lasts for 10 days.[Photo/China Daily]

Cities are seeking a balance between traditional celebration and reducing environmental pollution

The national environmental watchdog will put strict controls on setting off fireworks during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday, which falls on Feb 18, by expanding forbidden areas and times and conducting more supervision.

Fireworks can increase the concentration of pollutants 10 times over and are extremely harmful for people’s health, said Shi Guoliang, an associate professor at the State key laboratory for urban particulate air pollution prevention at Nankai University.

To reduce potential air pollution during the holiday, cities need to implement restrictions for fireworks including forbidden areas and times, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Feb 3.

Many cities have adopted measures ranging from reducing the sale and use of fireworks to levying harsh fines on violators.

In Beijing, fireworks will only be on sale for 11 days starting Feb 13, the shortest period in eight years.

In Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, which the ministry listed in the top 10 cities with the worst air quality last year, residents need to use identity cards when they purchase fireworks.

Xingtai, Hebei province, another city with bad pollution, is forbidding fireworks in downtown areas.

Wang Tao, an 18-year-old student in Beijing, supported the controls, saying clean air and health are important to him.

But Pan Mingbiao, a 48-year-old man working in the capital, said fireworks are closely related to Spring Festival, so joy and happiness will disappear without them.

“In my hometown, a remote village in Anhui province, I will continue to celebrate the Chinese New Year with loads of fireworks,” he said.

Zhang Chengdong, an expert in folk customs from Jiangsu province, said it’s hard to forbid traditions, even if it’s necessary for the environment and people’s health.

“Traditions and pollution have put governments and people in a dilemma,” Zhang said.

Governments should lead people to realize the adverse effect of setting off fireworks, and society will progress by protecting the environment, he said.

Han Xiaowen contributed to this story.