China’s Pollution Crisis

published Dec 09, 2015
1 min read


China registers highest pollution levels since 2013

Images of mask-clad Chinese residents keep surfacing as the country beats its own pollution records. An attempt to reduce the appalling levels of smog by closing down factories, impeding the building of new carbon-burning plants and the circulation of thousands of vehicles wasn’t enough to stop the rising smog levels brought by the winter season.

Chinese government starts monitoring smog levels

The American Embassy in Beijing had started monitoring smog levels daily 3 years ago. The government has started doing the same this year, as it started devising plans to reduce the dangerous pollution. Anyone can now have access to these numbers, updated hourly, and compare them to a safety scale:

Value Safety level
1-50 Safe
50-100 Light
100-150 Potential danger for sensible groups
150-200 Potential danger for all groups
300-500 Poisonous

Ideally, an individual shouldn’t be exposed to values over 20 on a daily basis, measured on the base of the presence of toxic particles in the air. Pollution in Beijing, however, has peaked at 700. Pollution is now the primary cause of premature death in China, especially in its numerous (over 300) metropolitan cities.

In the first half of November, the country started experiencing a pollution crisis, with the level of toxic particles exceeding the OMS recommended levels by 56 times. Citizens were forced to wear masks to avoid breathing difficulties. The crisis continues as the Government forces industries to limit or pause production.

Authorities are aware of the problem, but the measures put in place so far have proven to be unsuccessful. Between 350,000 and 500,000 people die every year because of pollution, according to the Chinese Health Ministry. The country representatives at COP21 just unveiled a plan to cut 60% of emissions and invest heavily in renewables, but refuse to stop industrial development and rejected the adoption of a joint initiative with India. China is currently the world’s number 1 polluter.

Source: China-files

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