From the Chinese Press
Updated: 2013-10-22 08:11
Cooking and PM2.5
A Beijing official recently said that cooking (that is, the use of liquefied petroleum gas, coal, wood or other fuel to prepare food) increases the PM2.5 index, sparking a heated public debate. PM2.5 refers to particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometer or less suspended in the atmosphere that can be inhaled by humans leading to health complications. Besides, the official suggested Beijing residents' involvement is needed to make the government's clean-air measures a success. His suggestion may sound strange to many people, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the pollution caused by cooking, which is bad for the atmosphere as well as human health, says an article in Beijing Youth Daily. Excerpts:
A study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences shows that the smog that envelops Beijing in winter is caused, to a large extent, by the burning of coal to supply heating to the city's buildings. In summer, the burning of fuels for cooking is responsible for 15 to 20 percent of the air pollution. Therefore what the Beijing official said is not untrue.
The public seems outraged by his statement because it, in a way, questions our cooking methods. His remark appears weird because officials are not supposed to interfere in individuals' private affairs like cooking and eating, which for all societies are sensitive issues and above consideration.
In the first half of this year, the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau received more than 10,000 complaints from residents, with 20.1 percent (the most in any category) of them being against air pollution caused by eateries and caterers. The authorities have decided to strengthen supervision of catering companies and compel them to follow pollution-control rules. Also, the authorities will limit the number of open barbecues in downtown Beijing. This should make it clear why the official suggested people's involvement is needed to make the government's pollution-control drive a success.
Cooking releases more than 200 elements in the atmosphere, some of which are harmful to human health. People should learn more about pollution caused by cooking before criticizing environment and health officials for their statements.
(China Daily 10/22/2013 page9)