China smog fears spur call for ban on Chinese New Year fireworks
BEIJING (Reuters) - Warnings of heavy smog over central and eastern China this week have prompted the country's weather forecaster to call for a ban on the fireworks traditionally let off during the Lunar New Year, state media said on Wednesday.
Chinese New Year, which begins on Friday, is marked by riotous displays of fireworks thought to bring good luck, but which turn cities into a semblance of war zones and blacken the skies with thick smoke for hours on end.
With smog expected to start blanketing central and eastern China from Thursday, Mr Chen Zhenlin, spokesman for the China Meteorological Administration, said local governments should ban fireworks completely, the official China Daily said.
"Firecrackers and fireworks can release large amounts of toxic gas and particles such as sulphur dioxide, which will cause severe air pollution," Mr Chen was quoted as saying.