Fri, Aug 04, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Sulfur dioxide emissions cause losses


China has seen a sharp rise in sulfur dioxide emissions over the past five years due to increased coal use, leading to enormous economic and environmental losses, the government said yesterday.

China, the world's biggest emitter of sulfur dioxide, spewed nearly 23.6 million tonnes of the pollutant into the atmosphere last year, the State Environmental Protection Administration said.

This was up 27 percent up from the amount emitted in 2000 and coincided with an increase of 725.7 million tonnes in national coal consumption during those five years, the administration's report said.

Li Xinmin, deputy director general of the administration's pollution control department, said each tonne of sulfur dioxide caused 20,000 yuan (US$2,500) of economic losses, without explaining how the figure was tallied.

This would mean China suffered nearly US$65 billion in losses last year from such emissions.

One of the side effects of sulfur dioxide pollution is acid rain. More than half of 696 cities and counties under a national monitoring program experienced acid rain last year due to sulfur dioxide pollution, the report said.

Acid rain and sulfur dioxide pollution contribute to the acidification of soil and water, and accelerate corrosion of buildings. sulfur dioxide pollution can also cause health problems such as heart disease and bronchitis.

Li said the aim was to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions to 20.8 million tonnes annually by 2010.

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