“Last week saw the highest smog measurements for north Chinese skies since the implementation of modern monitoring methods. Vulnerable residents of the Chinese capital were advised to stay indoors, as facemasks and air filtration systems were sold in record numbers. On Monday, kindergartens and primary schools in Beijing suspended outdoor physical education classes to protect vulnerable young bodies from the noxious haze.
“The toxic air that stagnates around Beijing could be blown away by a serious rearranging of national priorities. There are signs that China’s new leadership is taking the issue seriously. Beyond incremental policies to ease the current situation, the most important indication of change is the fact that China’s state-run media has extensively covered the ongoing “Airpocalypse”.
“On January 12, readings in Beijing for PM 2.5 particles (the most dangerous particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns or less) reached 993 micrograms per cubic meter. The World Health Organization considers readings above 100 to be dangerous for sensitive groups, such as infants, the elderly, and asthmatics. The index for measuring PM 2.5 particles tops off at 500. In recent days the level of pollution in Beijing was literally off the charts.
“Geography and weather play a role in exacerbating Beijing’s acute pollution situation. The area around Beijing often suffers from stagnant air. Furthermore, the particularly cold weather has seen an increase in the use of coal for household heating. However, the primary cause of the ‘Airpocalypse’ is China’s singular focus on economic development. In the last several decades China has made historically unprecedented strides in alleviating poverty and increasing the material standard of living for the Chinese people.”
For more, see: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/OA18Ad01.html