Summary: In the province of Heilongjiang, China, smog shut down airways, closed highways, and schools. The visibility fell under 10 meters in areas where pollution is over 40 times the recommendation. In the city of Harbin, particulate matter size and reached an all time high at micrograms per cubic meter. Authorities warned neighboring cities about the smog that would be moving their way and projected visibility of these cities would be less than 100 meters. Traffic policemen were rendered almost useless because oncoming traffic could not see them. PM2.5 is particularly dangerous because the matter is small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Coal consumption in industrial China is causing the extreme particulate matter pollution. Government council’s are talking about creating stricter limitations on the use of coal as an energy source. The Beijing government is prepared to spend 200 to 300 billion Yuan to reduce the amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere. Other solutions on the table include closing schools and alternating driving days for cars with even or odd number license plates.
Analysis: The health effects of this intense smog will last in the Chinese people, long after the amount of particulate matter is reduced. Residents of China’s highly polluted areas are at extreme risk. The rate of people who think the air pollution is a big problem is still under half at 47% but this is an improvement from last years 36%. China suffers from some of the worst air pollution on the planet with its high population and highly industrialized society. Particles remain suspended in the air for long periods of time. China will continue to be affected by the pollution. Visibility in the highly affected areas won’t improve for a while so highways and airways won't be able to open immediately. The implications of smog go beyond the major health issues of the Chinese people and the diversions of major transportation. This high pollution will be end up costing the government crazy amounts of money. Shutting down schools and closing roads contribute to an overall loss of productivity in the cities.
Oct 22, 2013