Air pollution in China’s largest cities, as measured by the concentration of fine particulates that pose the greatest health risk, was three-times worse in the first half of the year than levels advised by the World Health Organization. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the ‘air’ Category
Posted by Author on August 1, 2013
Posted by Author on January 30, 2013
China’s dependence on burning coal to meet its soaring energy demands has grown even more, with a new report saying that the country now accounts for nearly half of global coal consumption, meaning that the dense air pollution lingering over Chinese cities will likely only get worse.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday that China’s consumption of coal grew 9 percent in 2011, continuing an upward trend for the 12th consecutive year. In 2011, China’s coal use grew by some 325 million tons, representing 87 percent of the total increase that year. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Author on January 30, 2013
The stifling pollution currently plaguing much of northeastern China has reached levels so high it is beyond the measurements used in the U.S. to chart air quality.
“What Beijing is experiencing — and even worse in the provinces — is off the charts from anything we experience in the United States, and likely more than anything we’ve experienced in our country’s history,” said John Walke, the director of the Climate & Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Author on September 27, 2010
Alex Frangos, via http://blogs.wsj.com/, Sep. 27, 2010 –
To get a sense of how China’s air quality compares with the rest of the world, there’s a new map of global air-particulate pollution from Canadian scientists using National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellite data. The verdict: It doesn’t look good. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Author on March 22, 2010
Taiwan News, Staff Writer, Mar. 22, 2010-
The worst-ever dust storms from China forced air quality in Northern Taiwan sharply down yesterday, the Environmental Protection Administration said.
A total of 24 observation stations across the island recorded more than 1,000 micrograms of dust per cubic meter and a further ten showed values at damaging levels, according to the EPA. Skies turned a yellowish grey as there was no rain to wash away the dust, the Central Weather Bureau said.
The worst levels of pollution were recorded on the island of Matsu close to the coast of China’s Fujian Province, in Keelung on the North Coast and in several Taipei City districts, EPA official Chu Yu-chi said. Matsu airport was closed all day due to poor visibility, reports said.
Doctors advised people to limit outside activities to the barest minimum, and to wear masks or even goggles when riding a motorcycle. Patients suffering from breathing problems even before the storm should wait a few days until after it had left before resuming normal outside activities, reports said.
The number of patients recording breathing problems increased by 20 percent to 30 percent because of irritation by the dust, reports said. People wearing contact lenses felt irritation of the eyes, according to media reports quoting physicians…….(more details from Taiwan News)
Posted by Author on March 21, 2010
By Bae Ji-sook, The Korea Times, Staff Reporter, Mar. 21, 2010-
The Korean Peninsula experienced its worst case of yellow dust ever recorded Saturday and Sunday, leading the weather administration to advise people to take extra care as more is expected this month.
The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) posted a special yellow dust warning for most parts of the country Saturday.
The dust in the air marked 2,684 micrograms per cubic meter in Daegu; 2,408 micrograms in Jindo, South Jeolla Province; and 1,048 micrograms in Sokcho, Gangwon Province. These are the worst figures since the KMA started taking dust density measurements in 2005.
According to the agency, the special warning is posted only when the density is over 800 micrograms per cubic meter. The KMA posted its first such warning in 2007.
Drivers and pedestrians said the thick dust clouded their visibility.
The particles also kept many people from going outdoors for fear of respiratory problems.
A KMA spokesman said the dust storm was initiated in the Gobi. “Dust from Neimenggu (Inner Mongolia) and the yellow soil of the Hwangho River valley (China) have also contributed to the record amount of pollutants in the air.
Another dust storm is heading here from the inner part of China, likely causing more dust across the nation by Monday,” he said.
Posted by Author on February 8, 2010
Myth #10: China has an official program to substantially cut its carbon emissions.
Truth: The goal is to cut carbon emissions intensity. Actual emissions will soar in the next decade.
China has not vowed to cut emissions but rather emissions intensity, in this case measured in emissions per unit of GDP. That is, the commitment is to reduce emissions only relative to the size of the economy; if China’s economy continues to grow, so will total emissions. And GDP comes in multiple flavors, with different kinds of inflation adjustments plus adjustments for the currency being used. This leaves a great deal of room to maneuver.
China’s 2005 carbon dioxide emissions, for instance, were approximately 5.43 billion tons, or approximately 2.95 tons of carbon dioxide for every 10,000 yuan of GDP. The pledge is to cut carbon emissions intensity by 40 percent to 45 percent from the 2005 level, which would put emissions intensity near 1.75 tons carbon dioxide per 10,000 yuan of GDP.
From 2000 to 2009, simple GDP in yuan increased about 3.7 times. If that rate of nominal growth continues for the next decade, simple GDP will approach 135 trillion yuan in 2019. Using the target emissions intensity, carbon emissions in 2019 would more than quadruple over 2005, past 23 billion tons.
This is a numerical worst case and it is far more likely that China’s pledge refers to some adjusted version, not simple GDP. But which adjustment?
The difference between the arithmetic change of GDP from year to year and real GDP growth is called the deflator. It is all but impossible to make sense of China’s GDP deflator over time. With 10 years to play with, the Communist Party can announce whatever adjusted GDP it wants. Carbon dioxide emissions are unlikely to quadruple, but they very possibly will double, and Beijing will still be able to claim success in its intensity program.
Amid all the uncertainty, the best bet for the next decade is that the PRC rejects international estimates of its emissions the way it rejects international monitoring now. Beijing will substitute its own measurements, which will have some familiar magical properties. (to be cont’d)
– Original from The Heritage Foundation
Posted by Author on February 7, 2010
Myth #9: China’s greenhouse gas emissions are about the same as America’s.
Truth: China’s emissions are as much as 25 percent larger, and the gap is widening every day.
The effort to limit greenhouse-gas emissions is not usually thought of as a topic when discussing the Chinese economy, but it should be. By itself, the PRC is set to generate the majority of the world’s carbon emissions over the next decade. In contrast, China’s population will fall below 20 percent of the world total. The emissions story is about China’s development model, not size.
In 2006, most monitoring agencies put American and Chinese emissions at roughly equal levels. Three years, however, is a great deal in Chinese industry time. A very conservative estimate puts Chinese emissions growing by 10 percent more than America’s in 2007 and the first half of 2008, before the financial shock hit.
In the nearly 18 months since, the PRC’s extremely aggressive stimulus and orientation toward heavy industry almost surely mean its emissions growthhas remained rapid. Coal production is still expanding between 12 percent and 13 percent annually. The industries most cited by the central government as overinvested and expanding too fast– steel, cement, and aluminum–are major greenhouse-gas emitters. As a result, it is entirely possible that 2009 Chinese emissions were 25 percent larger than U.S. emissions.
All the unanswered questions about Chinese economic data apply to the environment as well. Chinese GDP is likely underestimated; so is energy use and pollution. Government monitoring is skewed by limited funding and political motives. There have been repeated failures to keep unsafe coal mines and outdated steel plants closed, and their output is often ignored because they should have been shut down. The true quantity of Chinese greenhouse emissions is uncertain. (to be cont’d)
– Original from The Heritage Foundation
Posted by Author on August 16, 2009
By Grace Wu, Epoch Times Staff Aug 16, 2009 –
Despite official boasts of increased “blue sky days,” hourly Twitter updates from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing report air quality as “very unhealthy” and even “hazardous.”
“Blue sky days” are when the air quality is rated as “moderate,” averaging a reading of 100 or less on the Air Quality Index. Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau reported meeting its targeted 256 “blue sky days” per year, early last November.
On the same days that Beijing deems the air quality “moderate”, readings from the U.S. Embassy’s own monitoring station reflect otherwise, appearing to contradict official claims that air quality has significantly improved since the 2008 Olympics. On June 18, the embassy reported air quality as hazardous, while Beijing’s official data read “slightly polluted.”
Part of the reason for the difference may be a matter of standards. The embassy measures air quality based on the United States’ EPA standard, which measures airborne particles such as soot, dust and liquid droplets with diameters smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM 2.5). China measures air quality based a less rigorous scale of particles less than 10 micrometers (PM 10). Particles with PM 2.5 pose greater health risks than those with PM 10, since they are not as easily expelled via coughing.
The embassy has been conducting its own measurements as a resource for the health of its staff, according to embassy spokesperson Susan Stevenson, interviewed by Time. The data is shared on the embassy’s Twitter feed, BeijingAir.
Another possible factor behind the discrepancy is the location of monitoring systems. Steven Andrews, an American environmental consultant, has suggested that Beijing officials have moved monitoring stations to less polluted areas so they would reap better data. Du Shaozhong, deputy head of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, denies such allegations, though he did not elaborate on possible reasons for the inconsistent figures.
Since the Olympics, Beijing’s pollution levels have been under scrutiny. To reach the basic air quality required for the Olympics, Beijing closed its surrounding factories, limited traffic, and stopped construction projects.
The report Beijing 2008 Olympic Games – Final Environmental Assessment released during the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council meeting on February 18, noted that “there remains significant room to improve Beijing’s air quality.”
Posted by Author on April 25, 2009
By James Reynolds, BBC News, Shanxi, central China, Apr. 23, 2009-
For the Li family, the best part of the day comes at noon.
Every day, after school, Li San San picks up his children from school, jams them all onto the back of his motorbike and drives them through the hills back home.
The kids cling onto each other and laugh as they try not to fall off.
On the main roads nearby, lines of coal trucks head off to the rest of China. The valleys are full of steelworks and heavy industry.
The Li family get back to their home, which is carved into the side of a hill.
Six-year-old Hong Wei eats his noodles and sits quietly in front of his school notebook.
He has a shy smile and hides in his sister’s lap when we try to talk to him.
Hong Wei was born with an extra thumb on his right hand. His elder sister Lixia, who’s 14, was born with a twisted left foot and walks with a heavy limp.
Like many people in Shanxi, this family is too poor to go to the doctors. The parents don’t know why their children were born with defects. They’re simply left to guess.
“The air isn’t good around here,” says Li San San. “When it’s bad, it’s difficult to breathe, it looks gloomy and smoggy out there.”
The province of Shanxi is one of the most polluted places in the world.
The rate of birth defects in this region is six times higher than the national average.
In January, the director of family planning in Shanxi, An Huanxiao, told the China Daily newspaper that the province’s high rate of birth defects was related to environmental pollution. …… (more details from BBC News)
Posted by Author on August 6, 2008
Posted in air, Athlete, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Environment, News, People, pollution, Sports, USA, World | Comments Off on 2008 China Olympics: U.S. cyclists wear masks upon arrival in Beijing
Posted by Author on August 6, 2008
By Stephanie Ho, VOA News, Beijing, 04 August 2008-
As China makes last minute preparations to host the Olympics, the environment is proving to be one major wild card that Chinese leaders cannot totally control. Olympic host city Beijing has some of the most polluted air in the world. Despite measures aimed at clearing the skies, the air is still often a disturbing murky gray. Stephanie Ho reports from the Chinese capital.
These days, people watch the skies above Beijing closely. Some days, especially after it rains, the skies are relatively clear.
More often than not, though, a thick murky haze fills the air and makes it nearly impossible to see nearby buildings.
What is causing Beijing’s gray skies? Is it natural phenomena, or is it pollution?
The city’s notoriously polluted air is one of the biggest question marks hanging over the Olympic games, which begin August 8. China hopes the event will dazzle the world. Will smoggy skies overshadow the party?
The Australian Olympic Committee’s Peter Montgomery says the air pollution concerns him and his team.
“For us, the athletes’ attitude to the event is paramount,” he said. If they don’t want to compete, fine. They will be absolutely under no pressure to compete if they feel uneasy or do not want to compete.”
Some Olympic delegations, including the U.S. Olympic Committee, are making protective masks available to their athletes.
Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau spokesman Du Shaozhong says his office has worked “very hard” to ensure the air quality.
Du says there is no need to wear a face mask when participating in the games. He says if the athletes insist on doing so, it will only end up an extra item in their luggage and make their luggage heavier……. ( more details from VOA News)
Posted by Author on March 4, 2008
By Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, March 3, 2008-
SEOUL, March 3 (Reuters) – South Korea closed schools on Monday and its factories producing memory chips stepped up safeguards, as a choking pall of sand mixed with toxic dust from China covered most of the country and other parts of Asia.
The annual “yellow dust” spring storms, which originate in China’s Gobi Desert before sweeping south to envelop the Korean peninsula and parts of Japan, are blamed for scores of deaths and billions of dollars in damage every year in South Korea.
It issued a yellow dust warning at the weekend. On Monday, school districts in southeastern regions urged parents to keep kindergarten and elementary school children at home.
“We advised the closure because kindergarten, primary school students have weaker immune systems,” said Min Eyu-gi, an education official in Busan.
An official with the Meteorological Administration said the first major storm of the season, which has also hit parts of Japan, was dissipating.
But forecasts from China said cold air and little rainfall would lead to more storms from Wednesday through March 11, Xinhua news agency reported.
Taiwan mostly avoids the toxic clouds but skies in Taipei on Monday were overcast, with the government telling people to wear surgical masks and avoid exercising outdoors.
In Japan, car drivers and train operators were asked to be on alert because the sandstorms had greatly reduced visibility.
The sand storms have been increasing in frequency and toxicity over the years because of China’s rapid economic growth and have added to increased tensions with neighbours South Korea and Japan over recent years.
The dust picks up heavy metals and carcinogens such as dioxin as it passes over Chinese industrial regions, before hitting North and South Korea and Japan, meteorologists say.
Dry weather and seasonal winds in China hurl millions of tonnes of sand at the Korean peninsula and Japan from late February through April or May, turning the skies to a jaundiced hue.
The state-sponsored Korea Environment Institute said the dust kills up to 165 South Koreans a year, mostly the elderly or those with respiratory ailments, and makes as many as 1.8 million ill.
Annual economic damage to South Korea from the storms is estimated at up to 5.5 trillion won ($5.82 billion), according to the institute.
Hynix Semiconductor Inc, the world’s second-biggest maker of memory chips, said it has had to step up its filtration systems and make employees take longer air showers to make sure the dust does not contaminate its production lines and damage chips, made using technology that operates on a microscopic level.
South Korean retailers, however, have spotted an opportunity, offering special scarves, hats and other accessories for the yellow dust season. ($1=944.5 won)
– Original report from Reuters
Citing Weather Information As State Secrets, China Refuses Asia Countries To Release Data On Yellow Sand
Posted by Author on February 19, 2008
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan, Feb. 18, 2008-
A plan for Japan, China, South Korea and Mongolia to observe and forecast airborne desert sand has been hampered as China has withdrawn from the scheme, citing weather information as state secrets.
The Environment Ministry’s Web site, which is to release forecasts on so-called yellow sand to the public, will start the service later this month as planned, but without the cooperation of the country where most of the sand originates.
According to ministry sources, with China reneging on its promise of cooperation by refusing to provide data, the system’s observation and forecast accuracy will be insufficient.
Between March and May every year, large quantities of yellow sand are sent airborne from the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts, with much of it catching westerly winds that carry it toward Japan, causing numerous problems in places the sand passes over.
In China and South Korea, many residents suffer from respiratory problems due to the sand. In Japan, mainly in Kyushu, laundry is often tinged yellow by the sand and the percentage of faulty products made by precision machinery factories has increased.
According to the Fukuoka Institute of Health and Environmental Sciences in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, when the sand was observed in the prefecture early last April, the concentration of dust in the air exceeded normal levels across the prefecture and the air took on a brownish tint.
The Meteorological Agency currently releases data on airborne yellow sand obtained from observations at 85 sites across the nation. But these observations are done visually, meaning airborne sand is only noted when it reaches the nation. These observations alone cannot accurately forecast the level of yellow sand approaching Japan.
The ministry began testing yellow sand forecasts on its Web site last spring.
Starting later this month, the ministry had planned to release more detailed sand forecasts based on data from one observation site in China, one in South Korea, three in Mongolia and 10 in Japan.
The information to be released by the ministry was to include actual quantities of airborne sand from near ground level up to six kilometers up. It also was to model how the sand is spread.
The Chinese observation site was to be in Beijing, which is right on the main path of yellow sand headed to Japan, making a Beijing observation post essential.
But in April, just before the start of a test run of the international system, Beijing suddenly notified Tokyo of its refusal to provide the data. China had enacted a law prohibiting bringing any weather observation data to be provided overseas, saying weather observation information as a state secret that affects national security and interests.
The situation has remained unchanged since then, forcing the ministry to forecast yellow sand quantities starting later this month without information on how much sand has been stirred up in China.
China also canceled in May a plan to improve its observation network with seven more facilities to be built with official development assistance from Japan.
Japan canceled a 250 million yen worth of grants in aid earmarked in fiscal 2006 for the cooperation.
In January, Japan, China and South Korea started joint research on yellow sand, but as the situation currently stands, data on the origin of the sand is only available from Mongolia. The limited data is expected to hamper future research.
An official of the ministry’s Global Environmental Issues Division said, “We heard from the Chinese side that it would be difficult to allow the information to be publicized on the Internet, even if data could be provided for joint research being done for the Beijing Olympics being held this year.”
Since 2000, the number of days when yellow sand was observed has rapidly increased. Increased deforestation and desertification caused by excessive livestock breeding has been cited as a cause.
– Original report from The Yomiuri Shimbun
Posted by Author on October 18, 2007
AFP, Oct.16, 2007-
LONDON (AFP) — An environmental protestor put anti-pollution face masks on at least two of China’s terracotta warriors at an exhibition in London, to highlight China’s pollution record, a report said Monday.
Martin Wyness jumped over barriers to place the masks bearing the slogan “CO2 emission polluter” on the warriors, some 20 of whom have been on display at the British Museum since last month, the Evening Standard reported.
“I did it because I have got two children and I am very very concerned about the global inaction over climate change, particularly what is happening in China,” he told the paper, which printed pictures of the be-masked warriors.
The 49-year-old, who staged the protest during a visit to the museum with his daughters Ruby and Sophie, was dragged away by security guards.
“I saw the man climb over the barriers. He was totally calm and silent. None of the security staff had any idea what was going on,” witness Amelia Hanratty told the paper.
“They only found out when a member of the public alerted them. Two dashed over and frogmarched him away. He could have damaged the soldiers but he didn’t do anything to them except put on the masks.”
A Chinese official accompanying the warriors during the show is checking the statues, while Wyness has been banned from the British Museum for life.
– Original report from AFP: Eco protestor puts masks on China’s terracotta warriors
Posted in Activist, air, China, Chinese Culture, Environment, Life, News, NW China, People, pollution, Shaanxi, UK, World, Xi’an | Comments Off on China’s terracotta warriors masked by Eco protestor in London
Posted by Author on August 21, 2007
By Maureen Fan, Washington Post Foreign Service, Tuesday, August 21, 2007-
BEIJING, Aug. 20 — Despite a move by authorities to slash the number of motorists in Beijing by more than a million during a pre-Olympics pollution test, the city’s skies remained a hazy white Monday evening and pollution levels showed a slight increase over the four-day trial period, Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau said.
A top Chinese environmental official attributed the increase to humid weather and said pollution levels had been higher just before the test began.
Pollution remains a challenge for organizers of next summer’s Olympic Games. Authorities fear Beijing’s smoggy skies could threaten athletes’ health and have said events might be postponed as a result. The problem reflects the difficulties China faces as it struggles to meet environmental goals without curbing economic growth…… ( more details from Washington Post’s report)
Posted by Author on August 18, 2007
BBC News, 17 August 2007-
Some spectators attending the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing face serious health problems due to air pollution, a leading health expert has warned.
Dr Michal Krzyzanowski of the World Health Organisation told the BBC that those with a history of cardiovascular problems should take particular care.
He also said the city’s poor air quality could trigger asthma attacks.
The warning came as Beijing began a four-day test scheme to take 1.3m vehicles off the city’s roads.
During the test period, cars with registration plates ending in odd and even numbers will each be banned from the roads for two day.
Any driver caught contravening the restrictions will be fined 100 yuan ($13, £6.50) by 6,500 police officers.
If the strategy works, it will be used next August to reduce air pollution and traffic during the Olympics.
Officials expect the ban to cut vehicle emissions by 40%, although correspondents said thick smog continued to hang over the city on Friday.
Beijing’s residents, who are being told to take public transport rather than their cars during the test period, appear to be supporting the pilot project.
But despite the plans to cut emissions, Dr Krzyzanowski said the WHO still feared for the welfare of those planning to attend the games next year.
“All of the cities are pretty highly polluted by European standards, but even by the standards of Asia, Chinese cities are pretty highly polluted,” he told BBC Sport.
“The main problem in Chinese cities is air pollution, small particles which are suspended in the air and penetrate deep into the lungs,” he added.
“More importantly they penetrate other systems, like the cardio-vascular system and travel in the blood through the body.”
Dr Krzyzanowski said people who were not in perfect health ought to think twice before travelling to the games, given the additional stress generated by the excitement of a sporting event, the heat and the poor quality air.
“For them, exposure to high pollution levels may be a trigger to serious problems if they already have, for instance, cardio-vascular disease,” he said.
“Those who come with asthma may suffer attacks – they usually know how to respond to it, but I would be concerned for those who have some cardiac condition,” he added.
“This might be more serious as it requires a much more specialised medical response.”
International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge warned last week that events could be postponed if conditions were unhealthy, while some countries say their competitors will arrive in Beijing as late as possible to avoid exposure to pollution.
The air pollution expert also cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Beijing Organising Committee’s experimental traffic ban, saying reducing pollution required long term planning rather than short term fixes.
“I’d be amazed if substantial progress is made in the next 12 months,” he said, pointing out that Beijing’s problems are not just created locally.
“Particles have the ability of travelling thousands of kilometres in the air, so it’s possible the beneficial effect of cutting the traffic in the city will be compensated by the transport of pollution from other parts of China.”
Beijing, home to about 16 million people, has just over 3 million registered vehicles, mostly comprising private cars, buses, taxis and government vehicles.
– Original report from BBC News: WHO fears over Beijing pollution