The capital of China was forced to cancel flights due to poor visibility and temporarily shut down factories due to the high levels of smog.
The Associated Press writes: The capital was a colorless scene. Street lamps and the outlines of buildings receded into a white haze as pedestrians donned face masks to guard against the caustic air. The flight cancellations stranded passengers during the first week of the country’s peak, six-week period for travel surrounding the Chinese New Year on Feb. 10.
The poor air quality in China should come as no surprise, as we recently reported that China’s air pollution levels are breaking records and reaching dangerous levels. So much so that the Chinese media has taken a stand on air pollution in China by calling on the government to take action against pollution, which according to the media, have reached dangerous levels in the capital city, which is home to around 20 million people.
According to the media, the air quality in Beijing reached 755 on an index measuring particulates of matter in the air. For an idea of how bad 755 is, know that the World Health Organization recommends a daily level no higher than 20 and a level of 300 is deemed to be dangerous. According to Zhou Rong, climate and energy campaigner at Green peace, 755 is the worst recorded air pollution in Beijing.
“How can we get out of this suffocating siege of pollution?” asks the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, in a front-page editorial, according to Reuters. ”Let us clearly view managing environmental pollution with a sense of urgency.”
The media’s sense of urgency is apt, as the the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that a particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers can cause cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infection.
But there has been some good news in regards to China and pollution: China’s environment minister recently stated that the emissions of four major pollutants (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, chemical oxygen, and ammonia nitrogen) dropped last year by two percent, and that the country would see a similar decline this year.
“To cope with an air quality crisis, contingency measures will be adopted, such as suspending or limiting the production of certain vehicles and limiting emissions and car usage,” writes the official Xinhua news agency citing Zhou Shengxian, according to Reuters. ”The ministry will also ban the operation of vehicles registered before 2005 under exhaust emissions requirements … and efforts will be made to improve the quality of gasoline and diesel.”