[QODLink]
Weather

Hazardous pollution levels choke Beijing

Air quality in the Chinese capital plunges to hazardous levels.

Last updated: 23 Feb 2014 10:23
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
High levels of air pollution have been linked to diseases such as emphysema and cancer [AFP]

Smog engulfs the city of Beijing this weekend, as quiet weather conditions encourages the pollution to settle across the city.

The quiet weather is due to an area of high pressure which is dominating the region. High pressure acts as a lid on the atmosphere, effectively trapping the polluting particles near the earth, and preventing them from dispersing.

The forecast of quiet weather prompted a yellow alert to be issued on Thursday, ahead of the weekend.

Yellow is the second highest on the new scale of four levels which the Environmental Protection Bureau issued in October last year. This is the first time that a yellow warning has been issued.

People were warned to reduce outdoor activities, and many commuters opted to wear masks.

On Friday and Saturday, the city reported an air quality index of over 400. This is extremely high; levels above 300 are classed as hazardous by the World Health Organisation.

The air pollution index measures the number of unhealthy particles in the air. It refers to the number of particles known as PM2.5, those which are 2.5 microns in diameter. This includes ammonia, carbon, nitrates and sulphates have been linked to diseases such as emphysema and cancer.

Pollution is an increasing concern in China, which adopted a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has tainted much of the country's air, water and soil.

This is a particular problem in Beijing, which is surrounded by the Hebei province. Hebei the country’s biggest steel producer, and home to many of the most polluted cities in the country.

A wind from the south or east will therefore draw pollution into Beijing from the surrounding cities. This pollution then gets trapped within the city, its path blocked by the mountains to north and west.

A strong wind or heavy rain will clear the pollution, but at this time of year there are often long spells of calm and quiet weather.

The authorities in China are well aware of the problem, and last year over 8,000 heavily polluting companies were shut down in the Hebei province.

This year, more action is being taken. At the end of January, Beijing's mayor pledged to cut coal use by 2.6 million tonnes and set aside $2.4 BN (15 billion yuan) to improve air quality.

394

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.