Fireworks ban pays off as Beijing records best air quality for Lunar New Year's eve

Preparation for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics
A security personnel stands guard at a closed loop bubble area, ahead of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, China, February 1, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

BEIJING, Feb 1 (Reuters) - A ban on fireworks ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics helped China's capital record its cleanest air for a Lunar New Year since it first started monitoring air pollutants, known as PM2.5, nine years ago.

Average concentrations of PM2.5 - small, hazardous airborne particles - stood at 5 micrograms per cubic metre in Beijing in Monday night, compared with an average of 289 micrograms for the Lunar New Year's eve in 2021.

The Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau gave details of the readings in a statement on Tuesday.

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Traditionally, Chinese people have celebrated Lunar New Year's eve by lighting firecrackers, hoping to get rid of bad luck.

But this year Beijing introduced a full ban on fireworks, having previously only banning them in the city centre.

Cities across northern China, including Zhangjiakou - a city co-hosting the Winter Olympics - have also imposed curbs on selling and lighting fireworks.

The authorities did not make a direct link between the ban on fireworks and the Winter Olympics, but environmental officials had warned that weather conditions would make it harder to keep air clean during the Games, which will be held on Feb.4-20. read more

The government has vowed to run a "green" Games and authorities have shut polluting firms and boosted clean energy consumption to improve conditions in the smog-prone Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area. read more

Some Chinese netizens, however, were missing their fireworks.

"It's boring to not allow the fireworks for the New Year. What's the difference from usual? The traditions are lost," said a netizen, who went by the name "ZY fish", on China's twitter-like Weibo.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tony Munroe; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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