Officials from Japan’s Environment Ministry and representatives from some 130 municipalities all over the country met today in Tokyo to discuss the current air pollution situation and its likely effect on the public’s health, which is caused by the air pollutant PM2.5 found in the smog that enveloped China recently in January. PM2.5 is a hazardous particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns, or 2.5 thousandths of a millimeter, in diameter; it can be easily absorbed by the lungs and result in heart and lung diseases.
The Environment Ministry also expounded on the procedures listed under the emergency action program it first introduced on February 8, which includes a plan to compile provisional guidelines for municipalities to issue alerts in case of high concentrations of toxic smog. It plans to complete this by the end of the month. It will also study if wearing masks and using electronic air cleaners are effective in preventing harmful effects on health. Because there is a possibility that air pollution in China could get worse, and yellow sand is likely to be blown by the wind to Japan in the spring, the Japanese government has increased efforts in ensuring that continuous studies on the impact of those phenomena to the people’s health in Japan.
The ministry also asked the local governments to increase the number of monitoring points for PM2.5 in their areas to get a more accurate surveillance system for the air pollutant across the country. The ministry targets the increase of monitoring posts to about 1,300 in all municipalities by the end of March. Unfortunately, it has not even reached half of that figure because of fiscal shortfalls, among other reasons.