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For generations, the Chinese Lunar New Year has been celebrated with red money-filled envelopes, family dinners, and exploding firecrackers that herald the days to come. However this year the China Meteorological Administration has suggested that local governments ban the use of firecrackers, citing the country’s ongoing battle with astronomical levels of air pollution.

chinese new year, fireworks, firecrackers, celebrationImage via Shutterstock

In recent years China’s major metropolises have made headlines around the world for their staggeringly poor air quality. The situation is so dire that the country’s smog can literally be seen from space. Coal-fired power plants, increased vehicle traffic, urban development, and industrial manufacturing all contribute to conditions that can slash the life expectancy of residents, damage the environment, and send plumes of pollution across the ocean to the United States.

Chinese New Year begins this Friday, and many will experience this age-old festival without the familiar sound and spark of popping fireworks. The China Meteorological Administration is urging those in central and western China to refrain from lighting the explosives as they can release toxic gas and particles such as sulfur dioxide, which can make air quality worse. Officials in Beijing have already asked residents to light fewer firecrackers, and China Daily reports that citizens have so far largely heeded the advice. Sadly, the nation famous for the invention of fireworks must abandon them in an effort to control the consequences of rapid industrial development.

Via The Huffington Post