Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara said today that they are planning to create guidelines for local municipalities to issue alerts should high levels of toxicity from the smog in China reach the shores of Japan. He unveiled an emergency action program with measures that included the creation of advisory and warning standards, as well as forging stronger Japan-China technical cooperation through the expansion of a monitoring network on air pollutants.
The ministry said it will likewise create a panel composed of seven to eight experts on air pollution and health. This panel, set to hold its first meeting on Wednesday, is tasked to gather information to assess the components of PM2.5 and the possible health risks based on the different levels of concentrations. To strengthen monitoring of air pollutants, it will also increase the existing observatories to 1,300 from the estimated total of 556 as of the end of fiscal 2012. On February 18, the ministry will set up liaison entities in municipalities in order to properly gather data of pollution levels.
Last week, China’s smog problem was recorded at extremely dangerous levels; so much so that several flights had to be cancelled. Experts said that the incoming Arctic cold front could blow the pollution into the Pacific Ocean, affecting not only Japan but also South Korea. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to accurately assess the situation with China providing such insufficient data.