News / Asia

Smog Blankets Chinese Cities

Buildings are seen in heavy haze in Beijing's central business district, January 14, 2013.
Buildings are seen in heavy haze in Beijing's central business district, January 14, 2013.
William Ide
Large parts of China continue to be enveloped in a sea of smog and national weather forecasters are warning that the pollution could linger until mid-week. The bad air stretches from cities in the north to the far south and has contributed to flight delays, forced schools to move activities indoors and led to a rise in respiratory cases at local hospitals.

Although pollution levels were slightly lower on Monday in China’s capital, Beijing, they were still lingering at levels environmentalists say are hazardous and protection, such as facemasks, is recommended.

In some of the worst hit areas - such as Beijing, Hebei, Tianjin, Henan and Shandong - visibility was less than one kilometer and in some cases less than 200 meters.

The lack of visibility has led to the closure of highways, cancellation of flights and postponement of wide range of sport activities.

On Saturday, an air quality station at the U.S. Embassy recorded particulate matter or PM 2.5 levels - nearly 900 micrograms per cubic meter. The World Health Organization recommended maximum daily level of PM 2.5 is 20 micrograms per square meter.

Fine particles in the air, which are about 1/30th the diameter of a human hair, come from many different sources, such as coal-burning power plants, construction and automobile exhaust.

Many people spent the weekend inside and on Monday as the pollution eased some, but showed no sign of letting up, some Beijing residents were reporting that it was difficult to find facemasks to buy.

Yoko, a 32-year-old public relations accountant, says that she went to buy a facemask this morning, but found that they were all sold out. However, she adds that even if you can find one, they are hard to wear outside because they feel so suffocating. 

Yoko says her son is in the hospital and she believes that he has gotten a cough because of the bad air.

She says she just came from a nearby children’s hospital which was overcrowded with parents seeking help for their children. She says there were hundreds of kids there and doctors were scrambling to just keep up.

Fan, 27, who works for an international watch company says the pollution was having a big impact on his activities in the past few days that he has spent much more time than he’d like inside.

Fan says that he has been living in Beijing for four years and that he has never seen the pollution as bad as it is now. He says you always notice the dust when you fly into Beijing, but this is the first time that the PM 2.5 levels have become so serious. Like many people, he feels that government should continue its efforts to address the problem.

To try and rein in the pollution, officials have ordered dozens of construction sites to halt operations and businesses to reduce their emissions.

Pan Xiaochuan, a professor of public health at Beijing University, says that although increasing emissions of pollutants from sources such as automobile exhaust and industrial soot is part of the reason for the smog - the weather has made the situation worse.

Pan says that with relatively low air pressure, little wind and high humidity, it is difficult for pollutants to move on and they have become trapped in the lower atmosphere.

  • Women wearing face masks run to cross a street in Beijing, May 6, 2013. The United States Embassy monitor on air quality in China classified the quality of air in Beijing as "hazardous."
  • A man rows a boat on a river during a hazy morning in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, June 16, 2013. 
  • A man wearing a mask is seen on a street in Beijing, May 2, 2013. Street-level anger over air pollution that blanketed many northern cities this winter spilled over into online appeals for Beijing to clean water supplies.
  • A statue of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong is seen in front of buildings during a hazy day in Shenyang, Liaoning province, May 7, 2013. 
  • Beijing schools kept children indoors, January 14, 2013, and hospitals saw a spike in respiratory cases following a weekend of excessive pollution in China's smoggy capital.
  • A teacher leads her students doing body exercises during class break in a classroom on a foggy day in Jinan, Shandong province, January 14, 2013.
  • Cranes atop a residential building under construction in central Beijing, April 18, 2012.
  • Smoke billows from a chimney of a heating plant in Beijing, February 13, 2012.
  • Haze blankets the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, as seen from inside the Olympic Green area during the Olympics, August 7, 2008.
  • A coal-burning power station at night in Xiangfan, Hubei province, September 15, 2009.
  • Paramilitary policemen practice drills inside the Forbidden City amid haze in central Beijing, December 4, 2011.
  • Buildings in Beijing are pictured on an evening with heavy haze and smog, October 28, 2011.

China’s capital has gone to great lengths to try to improve the quality of air in Beijing, relocating heavy industry and many factories outside of the city.

China’s leaders see pollution as a major challenge. When outgoing president Hu Jintao spoke to Communist Party leaders, late last year, he said the country needs to reverse the trend of ecological deterioration and build a beautiful China.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: milton stoltz from: 60126 U.S.A
January 18, 2013 1:19 PM
Its wonderful our government allows products not made by our
standards be sold to us just for wall st greed, so what if it kills
and destroys people, the air and water supplies $$$$$


by: Wangchuk from: NYC
January 18, 2013 10:56 AM
The majority of the worst-polluted cities are in China. Most of China's lakes & rivers are polluted. The Tibetan Plateau, once a pristine environment, is suffering from pollution and melting glaciers as a result of Chinese pollution. The problem is the Party's emphasis on GDP growth at all costs. Local officials get fired if they dont' meet minimum GDP rates but no one gets fired b/c their province/city/town is too polluted. Environmental laws are not enforced & China's environment ministry only has 300 people for a country of 1.4 billion.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid