Wastewater, PM2.5 now cross-border woes

China NGO official seeks pollution help

JIJI

A visiting official of a Chinese nongovernmental organization has called on Japan and China to step up exchanges of information on air and river pollution in China and share concerns about the problems.

China faces increasingly serious environmental problems, such as river pollution caused by wastewater from factories, and air pollution stemming from PM2.5, or particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or smaller in diameter.

These are cross-border problems, said Wang Jingjing, deputy head of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, or IPE, which studies environmental pollution in China and shows the results on its website.

Wang is visiting Japan at the invitation of a Japanese NGO. She has been a member of the IPE since it launched in 2006.

The IPE collects data on the levels of toxic materials in rivers and PM2.5 in the air, and the levels of acid in rain. It creates pollution maps using different colors depending on the levels of pollution, and posts them on the English and Chinese pages of its website.

River and rain pollution is particularly serious in Shanghai, while air pollution is grave in Beijing. But no data are available for some regions, Wang said.

Also posted on the website are factories that discharge toxic wastewater and the names of companies that procure products from such factories. Some 90 percent of the companies have received Japanese or other foreign capital, according to the IPE.

The IPE has asked about 80 companies in countries including Japan and the United States to help efforts to reduce pollution. Wang said she wants Japanese consumers to think whether products in front of them were made at environmentally unfriendly factories before buying them.

PM2.5 comes mainly from exhaust fumes and industrial smoke, thus reducing the use of coal is important in curbing the amount of PM2.5 in the air. Wang said that the IPE plans to conduct a detailed survey on sources of PM2.5 emissions and publish the outcome on its website.

China has become a major manufacturing base in line with its economic development, Wang said. New jobs have been created in China, but massive amounts of pollutants have also been produced, she added.

While political relations between Japan and China have been strained, Wang hopes NGOs and the private sectors of the two countries cooperate on combating the pollution problem.

Japanese air cleaners

Beijing Jiji

Japanese-made air cleaners are flying off store shelves in China, which continues to suffer from severe air pollution.

“Since the start of autumn, sales of air cleaners have more than doubled from summer,” a clerk at a Beijing electronics shop said. “Japanese brands sell better than Chinese products.”

“We aim to boost air cleaner sales this year by 1.5-fold from the previous year,” said an official at a subsidiary of Panasonic Corp.