Downtown Shanghai bans firecrackers & fireworks

Updated: 2016-02-06 03:35

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Downtown Shanghai bans firecrackers & fireworks

Shanghai government issued the strickest ban on setting off fireworks and firecrackers this year with the aim to improve air quality. gao erqiang / china daily

Shanghai’s residents will no longer be able to usher in the Lunar New Year by setting off fireworks or firecrackers after the city’s authorities enforced a ban on the activity in the beginning of the year in an attempt to improve air quality and ensure public safety.

According to the Shanghai Municipal Safety Management’s regulations, the igniting of such pyrotechnics is prohibited around the clock in areas within the outer ring road of the municipality. This ban also extends to all areas of the city when the air quality index surpasses 201 AQI.

The fireworks display at the Shanghai Disneyland resort, a trademark of Disney parks around the world, will also be canceled when the air quality index is over 201.

“We’ll also use fireworks that pose the least threats to the air,” said Fan Xiping, president of Shanghai Shendi Group Corp, Walt Disney’s Chinese partner.

Setting off firecrackers and fireworks — something that people also do during wedding celebrations and the opening day of a new business — are known to produce PM2.5, airborne particles of less than 2.5 microns in diameter, that have been identified as a substance that can cause cancer by the World Health Organization.

Statistics from the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center showed that the concentration of the pollutants rose to 500 micrograms per cubic meter of air from less than 50 during the Lunar New Year countdown hour in 2013.

Firecrackers and fireworks have also been deemed as the cause of more than 90 percent of fire hazards in Shanghai during the eve of Chinese New Year, according to the municipality’s fire control authority.

A survey in early 2015 showed that nearly three in four families said they would not buy or play with firecrackers and fireworks during the Spring Festival, mainly because they do not want to pollute the environment. The survey, which polled 1,830 families, was conducted by the social conditions and public opinions center under the Shanghai Statistics Bureau.

However, some residents are sad that they have to abandon this long-kept celebratory ritual.

“It’s understandable that people ought to wave goodbye to some old practices that are not suitable in today’s society, but we’re afraid the Lunar New Year atmosphere will be greatly weakened without the sounds of firecrackers. Let’s see how it will be this Spring Festival,” said Chen Junwei, a 62-year-old Shanghai resident.

The sales and storage of firecrackers and fireworks have also been banned. According to the regulations, offenders will be fined a maximum of 500 yuan ($76). However, some people believe the penalty is too light to be an effective deterrent.

“Wealthy individuals and businesses who buy firecrackers and fireworks worth 5,000 yuan won’t even care about such fines,” said Yin Xiaohu, director of the Institute of Law under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.