Continued from page 1

“Of course, if the foreign embassies want to collect air quality information for their own staff or diplomats, I think that is their own matter, but we believe that this type of information should not released to the public,” Liu said.

The top environmental official in Shanghai over the weekend also spoke out on the issue, telling local media that an air quality feed launched last month by the U.S. consulate in Shanghai was illegal.

The U.S. Embassy said the air quality monitor in Shanghai measures the air quality in the area around the consulate’s office. “The monitor is an unofficial resource for the health of the consulate community,” said Richard Buangan, embassy spokesman in Beijing.

China requires concentrations of PM2.5 to be kept below daily averages of 75 micrograms per cubic meter _ more than twice as lenient as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard of 35 micrograms.

PM2.5 are believed to be a health risk because they can lodge deeply in the lungs, and have been linked to increased cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as lung cancer.

___

Associated Press writer Gillian Wong in Beijing and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Online:

U.S. Embassy Beijing air quality monitor: https://twitter.com/(hashtag)!/BeijingAir

U.S. Consulate Guangzhou air quality monitor: https://twitter.com/(hashtag)!/Guangzhou_Air

U.S. Consulate Shanghai air quality monitor: https://twitter.com/(hashtag)!/cgshanghaiair