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For the past 12 hours, the so-called PM2.5 level (or China’s new pollution threshold) has been above the “serious” level. Bear in mind this is the newly adjusted-upwards threshold that already far exceeds the WHO’s health-threatening levels.
- BEIJING WARNS RESIDENTS TO AVOID OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES ON SMOG
- BEIJING MONITORING CENTER REPORTS `SERIOUS’ AIR POLLUTION TODAY
Levels are officially “beyond index” today (with a peak at 613 so far compred to 500 “hazardous”) and the streets are empty!
City’s air quality index reading near Tiananmen Square, putting it in category defined as “serious” pollution.
City warns residents to avoid outdoor activities
Reading of PM2.5 pollution near Tiananmen Square was 583 micrograms per cubic meter as of 6 a.m., with average reading in past 24 hours at 338, according to city’s air-monitoring website
NOTE: World Health Organization recommends 24-hour PM2.5 exposure of no more than 25
The widely followed @BeijingAir twitter account confirms just how bad it is on the ground. For those confused “Beyond Index” is a friendlier way of saying “Off The Charts”
Beijing’s pollution beyond index at 600. Looks like no one wants to venture out in this. pic.twitter.com/jCbceuPH27
— Neela Eyunni (@neelaeyunni) January 15, 2014
If you don’t like the frequency of your air-quality alerts, you don’t have to keep them. That is the message that the Chinese government has made loud and clear as Bloomberg reports, Shanghai’s environmental authority took decisive action to address the pollution – it cynically adjusted the threshold for “alerts” to ensure there won’t be so many. In a move remininscent of Japan’s raising of the “safe” radioactive threshold level, China has apparently decided – rather than accept responsibility for the disaster – to avoid it by making the “safe” pollution level over 50% more polluted (up from 75 to 115 micrograms per cubic meter) – almost 5 times the WHO’s “safe” level of 25 micrograms.
As the smog that has choked Shanghai for much of the last week reached hazardous levels, the city’s environmental authority took decisive action to address the frequent air-quality alerts: It adjusted standards downward to ensure that there won’t be so many.
It was a cynical move, surely made to protect the bureau’s image in the face of unrelenting pollution that only seems to grow worse, despite government promises to address it.At this advanced stage in China’s development, nobody in the country (or elsewhere) — not even the loyal state news media — seems to believe that the problem is solvable, at least not any time soon. Even worse, nobody — not the state and certainly not the growing number of middle-class consumers (and car buyers) — seems ready to take responsibility for the mess.
If you can’t fix it, you might as well try to avoid responsibility for it, the thinking seems to go. It therefore comes as no surprise that Shanghai’s Environmental Protection Bureau decided to lower the benchmark for alerting the public about pollution risks. It will now issue alerts only when the concentration of the most dangerous particulates in the city’s air, known asPM2.5 (particulates smaller than 2.5 micometers in diameter) reach 115 micrograms per cubic meter. The previous standard was 75 micrograms per cubic meter. (The World Health Organization recommends not exceeding 25 micrograms per cubic meter in a 24-hour period.)
The state-owned English-language China Daily explained the decision in tone that almost obscured the absurdity of the maneuver: “The bureau said it believes the original standard is too strict, given that haze is common in the Yangtze River Delta region in winter.”
“On social networks like Weibo and Wechat, Beijingers now show photos of blue skies and white clouds as if they’re on vacation.” This show-off behavior left a bad taste, he concedes, before concluding with a final sentence that ought to serve as a rallying cry in China: “I really hope that someday people will resume reacting to blue skies and white clouds in a ‘normal’ manner.”
That’s a hope that probably won’t be fulfilled in this decade or even the next.
Shanghai authorities ordered schoolchildren indoors and halted all construction Friday as China’s financial hub suffered one its worst bouts of air pollution, bringing visibility down to a few dozen metres, delaying flights and obscuring the city’s spectacular skyline.
The financial district was shrouded in a yellow haze, and noticeably fewer people walked the city’s streets. Vehicle traffic also was thinner, as authorities pulled 30 per cent of government vehicles from the roads. They also banned fireworks and public sporting events.
“I feel like I’m living in clouds of smog,” said Zheng Qiaoyun, a local resident who kept her six-month-old son at home. “I have a headache, I’m coughing, and it’s hard to breathe on my way to my office.”
‘Today, Shanghai air really has a layered taste. At first, it tastes slightly astringent with some smokiness. Upon full contact with your palate, the aftertaste has some earthy bitterness…’– Alan Yu, chef
Shanghai’s concentration of tiny, harmful PM 2.5 particles reached 602.5 micrograms per cubic metre Friday afternoon, an extremely hazardous level that was the highest since the city began recording such data last December. That compares with the World Health Organization’s safety guideline of 25 micrograms.
The dirty air that has gripped Shanghai and its neighbouring provinces for days is attributed to coal burning, car exhaust, factory pollution and weather patterns, and is a stark reminder that pollution is a serious challenge in China. Beijing, the capital, has seen extremely heavy smog several times over the past year. In the far northeastern city of Harbin, some monitoring sites reported PM 2.5 rates up to 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter in October, when the winter heating season kicked off.
Pollution levels unusual for Shanghai
As a coastal city, Shanghai usually has mild to modest air pollution, but recent weather patterns have left the city’s air stagnant. On China’s social media, netizens swapped jokes over the rivalry between Shanghai and Beijing, saying the financial hub was catching up with the capital in air pollution.
Alan Yu, a chef in Shanghai, satirized the air on his microblog as though he were sampling a new vintage of wine.
“Today, Shanghai air really has a layered taste. At first, it tastes slightly astringent with some smokiness. Upon full contact with your palate, the aftertaste has some earthy bitterness, and upon careful distinguishing you can even feel some dust-like particulate matter,” Yu wrote.
The environmental group Greenpeace said slow-moving and low-hanging air masses had carried factory emissions from Jiangsu, Anhui and Shandong provinces to Shanghai. But it said the root problem lies with the excessive industrial emissions in the region, including Zhejiang province to the south.
“Both Jiangsu and Zhejiang should act as soon as possible to set goals to reduce their coal consumption so that the Yantze River Delta will again be green with fresh air,” Huang Wei, a Greenpeace project manager, said in a statement.
Outdoor air pollution is a leading cause of cancer in humans, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The IARC said on Thursday that a panel of top experts had found “sufficient evidence” that exposure to outdoor air pollution caused lung cancer and raised the risk of bladder cancer.
The predominant sources of outdoor air pollution were transport, power generation, emissions from factories and farms, and residential heating and cooking, the UN agency said.
The most recent data, from 2010, showed that 223,000 lung cancer deaths worldwide were the result of air pollution, the report said.
“Our task was to evaluate the air everyone breathes rather than focus on specific air pollutants,” said the IARC’s Dana Loomis.
“The results from the reviewed studies point in the same direction: the risk of developing lung cancer is significantly increased in people exposed to air pollution,” he added.
Although the composition of air pollution and levels of exposure can vary dramatically between locations, the agency said its conclusions applied to all regions of the globe.
It said pollution exposure levels increased significantly in some parts of the world in recent years, notably in rapidly industrialising nations with large populations.
The latest findings were based on overall air quality, and based on an in-depth study of thousands of medical research projects conducted around the world over decades.
Air pollution was already known to increase the risk of respiratory and heart diseases.
“Classifying outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans is an important step,” said the IARC’s director Christopher Wild.
“There are effective ways to reduce air pollution and, given the scale of the exposure affecting people worldwide, this report should send a strong signal to the international community to take action without further delay.”
The data did not enable experts to establish whether particular groups of people were more or less vulnerable to cancer from pollution, but Kurt Straif of IARC said it was clear that risk rose in line with exposure.
Diesel exhaust and what is known as “particulate matter” – which includes soot – have been classified as carcinogenic by the IARC.
The IARC said that it was set to publish its in-depth conclusions on October 24 on the specialised website The Lancet Oncology.
- Air pollution causes cancer, WHO concludes (telegraph.co.uk)
- Outdoor air pollution is a cancer cause (skynews.com.au)
- Outdoor pollution is carcinogenic: WHO (thehindu.com)
Tower of Babel Moment « The Burning Platform. (FULL ARTICLE)
This week over in China, the Chinese had to SHUT DOWN Beijing due to SMOG problems. This is pretty radical, since far as I know not even Los Angeles ever got shut down due to Smog, and it was pretty nasty there particularly before CA Greenies went big time into emissions restrictions on the plethora of Carz that started hitting the LA Freeways in the 60s and 70s.
Air quality index readings for half of Beijing’s 12 urban areas fell below 200, the level dividing medium and heavy pollution, as of 12 p.m. today, according to data on the website of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center.
“Beijing will see light rain tonight, which will make it easier for air pollutants to dissipate,” Beijing Meteorological Bureau said today in its official microblog. The bureau lifted a yellow alert on smog at 8:50 a.m., predicting that visibility will improve….
- ZeroHedge: No Planes, No Trains, And No Automobiles As Record Smog Shuts Beijing (silveristhenew.com)
- Beijing Smog Closes Highways as Travelers Return After Holiday (bloomberg.com)
- Beijing shuts down highways, airport in fight against smog (elementulhuliganic.wordpress.com)
- China to unveil £180 billion anti-pollution plan. (telegraph.co.uk)
- China to spend $275 billion to combat pollution (smartplanet.com)
- China to spend $300 billion tackling pollution as coal consumption grows (abc.net.au)