Air pollution in China has been a mounting problem that began around the 1970s. The heavy use of coal to fuel the country’s industrial revolution, as well as other byproducts of that event, have made the country’s water undrinkable and air unbreathable. Friday, China was struck by air pollution that was more than 20 times above the limit what the World Health Organization recommends for the absolute highest exposure without causing permanent damage to your lungs and airways, reported The Guardian.
China’s air pollution problem has become especially troublesome for areas with small air pollutants called PM2.5 that can bury themselves deep into the lungs. In Hebei province, bordering where the Beijing smog had rolled in, PM2.5 made up 500 micrograms per cubic meter of total air content.
Sixteen of the 20 most polluted cities in the world war are in China, according to Vice News, smog-filled Beijing among them. Breathing for a day in many of the cities where air quality is especially poor is equivalent to smoking three packs of cigarettes. Ailun Yang of Green Peace China told Vice that a combination of factors have landed China with the worst air quality on earth.
“China suffers from both local problems and global environmental challenges. So the combined impact of climate change and local pollutions are causing enormous consequences. A lot of the environmental problems in China are very closely linked to our energy consumption. Because there is something fundamentally wrong with the economic model — that’s why the more the economy grows, the more the environment starts to get worse. [It] really shows the other side Chinese economic development which is actually the ugly side of it, and this is about how unbalanced the Chinese development has been.”
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) October 10, 2014
Environmental protection group Green Peace also released a statement about the record-breaking air pollution in China, where they explained that Beijing smog rolling in was due to widespread pollution.
“Satellite images show that a thick wave of pollution has come from areas south to Beijing, including the southern part of Hebei Province where iron and steel mills and other heavy industries are concentrated. It’s no surprise that the haze is man made, but weather conditions are exacerbating the problem.”
Beijing smog’s hitting 20 times China’s air pollution limit is also causing the country some international embarrassment. A soccer match that was supposed to take place between Brazil and Argentina, fierce rivals, may have to be canceled because of the abysmal air quality in the Chinese capital. Brazil’s team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said that his team is avoiding breathing the toxic Beijing smog, reported The Mirror.
“One of the pieces of advice that those responsible for pollution control give is that people should stay indoors and this is what we have done.”
[Images via Flickr, NASA, Wikipedia]