At a press conference on Feb. 5, Fukuoka City Mayor Soichiro Takashima said the city will discuss establishing its own standards for PM2.5 particulates, microscopic air pollutants from China, and urge people to wear masks ask parents and teachers to limit children’s outdoor playing time coinciding with the PM2.5 forecasts it will commence this summer. The forecasts are expected to use separate standards from those set by the Ministry of the Environment (under 35 mg/m3/day) and precautions for various levels will be posted on the city’s homepage and be sent out by e-mail.
The city is also considering ways to actively provide information to kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. “I hope we can create a system with which we can issue warnings to kindergartens and other schools, but we need to discuss what exactly is possible with the experts,” remarked Mayor Takashima. An expert panel will convene on Feb. 7 to begin discussions on the city’s standards, but some members are cautious about setting a separate set of rules. The city already discloses PM2.5 levels on its homepage, which was temporarily unavailable on Feb. 5 due to high traffic. The city has been releasing figures since March 2011, but this is the first time the homepage has crashed. Fukuoka Prefecture began releasing measurement data from its 10 PM2.5 monitors on its homepage on Feb. 5. Concentrations were within the national standards, but the Prefecture reported receiving about 40 e-mails and telephone calls about health effects. PM2.5, which refers to particulates less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, come from car exhaust and other sources and is known to cause asthma and bronchitis. There is growing concern that these pollutants could be transported from China by the westerlies. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun, Feb. 6