Friday, January 17, 2014

Dangerous pollution hits China's capital

Terra Daily via AFP: China's capital was shrouded in dangerous smog on Thursday, cutting visibility down to a few hundred metres as a count of small particulate pollution reached more than 25 times recommended levels.

A grey haze filled the sky, leaving an industrial, burning smell hanging in the air as PM2.5 reached over 500 micrograms per cubic metre in parts of Beijing, according to official statistics. Figures from the US embassy, which also monitors air quality, reached more than 671 in the early morning. The WHO recommends an exposure level of no more than 25 over a 24-hour period.

The official air quality index reached the top of the scale at 500. China's cities are often hit by heavy pollution, blamed on coal-burning by power stations and industry, as well as vehicle use, and it has become a major source of discontent with the ruling Communist Party.

"I can't believe how bad it is," said US tourist Richard Deutsch in Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, which was shrouded in heavy smog. "I have never experienced air this bad," said Deutsch, who is from Vermont. "It's worse than LA. I feel kind of bad for the people. It's taking years off their life."...

Smog in Beijing's Forbidden City, shot by Brian Jeffery Beggerly, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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