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Media Advisory: DRI helps launch massive air pollution study to preserve China's Terra-Cotta Warriors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 25, 2005

Reporters and Editors, Please Note

WHO: Desert Research Institute; Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Emperor Qin's (pronounced Chin) Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

WHAT: Holding a signature ceremony to launch the joint research of indoor air pollutants of the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum

WHERE: Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Xi'an (pronounced She-ann) city, Shanxi (pronounced Shan-cee) Province, China

WHEN: Thursday, March 3, 9-11 a.m.

HOW: Welcome address by Prof. Y. Q. Wu, museum director, China; speech by M. K. Tong, vice president of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, China; speech by L.S. Pan, vice governor of the Shanxi Province, China; introduction of museum study by Prof. Z. S. An, academic director of the Chinese Academy of Science, China; introduction of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University by Prof. J. M. Ko, vice president of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong; introduction of Nevada collaboraions with China by Dr. Jill Derby, vice chair of the University and Community College System of Nevada Board of Regents, USA; introduction of the Desert Research Institute by DRI President Dr. Steve Wells, USA.

BACKGROUND ABOUT DRI'S AFFILIATION WITH CHINA: The Desert Research Institute's participation in researching indoor air pollutants is part of a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, signed in 2003 with Dr. Guo Zhengtang (pronounced Guh Tzun-tong), president of the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Earth Environment in Xi'an. The MOU is part of four research agreements DRI has with China. Drs. Judith Chow and John Watson, two internationally recognized air quality experts in DRI's Division of Atmospheric Science, have collaborated with Chinese scientists for more than a decade on air quality issues and have generated a steady stream of Chinese graduate research students to DRI's Reno and Las Vegas campuses.

BACKGROUND ABOUT THE MUSEUM: Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum is located in Emporer Qin's Mausoleum in Xi'an city, Shanxi Province, China. In 1974, local farmers were drilling wells in search of water when they discovered pottery fragments and ancient bronze weapons from Qin's mausoleum accidentally. Exploration of the area began that year, with three pits eventually being excavated. Altogether more than 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots, and even weapons have been unearthed from these pits, and most of them have been restored to their former grandeur.

The museum has been open to visitors for more than 25 years and has developed into the largest on-site museum in China with 1.5 million visitors annually. Due to a combination of general air pollution in China, raised temperatures and humidity in the mausoleum and pollution from tourists visiting the museum, the terra-cotta warriors are being affected, showing signs of suffering from mold. Dr. Chow and Dr. Watson will lend their expertise in air pollution research to work with the Chinese to determine what type of constituents are in the air and how to best preserve the quality of the museum artifacts.