The thick cloud of toxic smog covering Beijing day and night is expected to be drastically reduced thanks to an emergency response plan that has ordered over 2,000 factories in and around China’s capital to either reduce production or shut down altogether.
The measures come in the wake of a governmental issue of environmental red alert – the second time the administration warned about reaching the highest level of toxicity. The red alret even prompted traffic restrictions and temporary school closures.
According to the report provided by the U.S. embassy’s air quality monitor in Beijing, the city has reached “very unhealthy” levels in the concentration of PM2.5 particles. This type of particles is deemed to be the most harmful to health, and they stood at 156 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday.
Shanghai doesn’t have it a lot better, since the figure stood at 144 micrograms in the central area of the city where local authorities were forced to call for a halt in demolition and construction works of any kind.
For comparison, the World Health Organization recommends the maximum limit for PM 2.5 particles to not surpass the threshold of 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period.
But Beijing and Shanghai are not the only major cities in northern China that are shrouded by a thick blanket of toxic smog; at least 30 other cities are in the same boat, according to China’s environmental ministry.
The officials from China’s meteorological department released a statement saying that the last red alert – the second one in the past 3 weeks – will be lifted on Tuesday, when the thick smog is expected to dissipate a little bit.
In the light of this news, it’s not surprising that China is at the moment the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. There are studies suggesting that air pollution contributes to roughly 1.4 million deaths every year in the country.
Trying to get a handle on the situation, the Chinese government announced that it has a 5-year plan to reduce hazardous emissions from coal-fired power plants by 50 percent. The region’s industrial development has far exceeded the capacity supported by the environment.
According to Ma Jun, head of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, the Environmental Law must be strictly enforced, so shutting down the polluters that fail to meet the standards is the next logical step.
Image Source: America Aljazeera