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Pollution breakthrough

China agrees to give citizens more information about what's really in their air

Public pressure often works, even in China.

Officials in Beijing and Shanghai have bowed to weeks of public criticism over their air-pollution monitoring and inadequate data. They've now announced they will begin telling residents about the small particulate in the air -- some of the most dangerous components of the country's simmering smog. Until now, Chinese citizens only known just how bad the air is through air monitors in Beijing placed by the US Embassy, with statistics updated hourly on Twitter and Weibo.

With increasingly soupy skies over the capital throughout this fall and winter, public complaints about China's own lack of data and even concealment of what's really in the air has reached a fever pitch. Officials initially tried to push back the calls for more information, saying monitoring cost too much, among other things.

In response Beijing, authorities have agreed to release tentative data on small particulates in the air, the measurement known as PM 2.5, from six of 27 air monitoring stations this month. Shanghai, meanwhile, will install PM 2.5-monitoring equipment.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/pollution-breakthrough