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.
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

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs