03/01/2013, 00.00
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A new (Chinese) name for smog, the population revolts

While in Beijing and northern China people can not breathe given the high level of PM2.5 – the polluting and carcinogenic particule that comes from industrial emissions - the government gives it a new Chinese name. The blogosphere and even Xinhua rise up: "highly inappropriate at current time."

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "Happiness index", "GDP particles" or " Dust with Chinese characteristics" are the names proposed by Chinese citizens to define the PM2.5 particles- which cause haze and pose the biggest health risks - that continues to surround the northern part of China, making it impossible to breathe and very dangerous to move about in the city. The proposal was put forward on the internet to ridicule the choice of the authorities, who today published a new "official" name for this form of pollution.

The levels of PM2.5 (Airborne particulate matter - dust - 2.5 micrograms per cubic meter) have become a nightmare for the people of Beijing. In some areas of the capital, yesterday it even reached a value of 561 per cubic meter, or "seriously polluted". A value of 100 is considered dangerous to the health of people with heart or lung diseases, children and the elderly. The World Health Organization has set the limit for normal air at 20.

After a long debate among meteorologists, linguists and environmental experts Beijing has coined a new term for PM2.5: xikeliwu, which translated means "fine particulate matter". State media have reported the decision with great emphasis after a debate in which the experts have also proposed "dust smog" and "fine floating dust ". But the decision has angered the blogosphere: "Apparently the authorities attempt to relieve public panic about air pollution by giving a Chinese name that mentions nothing about its hazardous impact, so that they'd face less pressure."

Even the government's news agency, Xinhua, has criticized the move: " The move is rather inappropriate at a time when smog is so severe, while so little has been done by the authorities. Is it a way of shirking from responsibilities? Does it really matter what the pollutant is called when the public have no place to hide and have to breathe the toxic air?".


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