As a toxic haze engulfed key cities in northern China on Tuesday, authorities issued their strongest air pollution warnings, warning the public that visibility might decrease to less than 50 metres (164 feet).
The northern province of Hebei issued an anti-pollution emergency response, specifying traffic safety regulations for when necessary, including suspending flight takeoffs and landings, temporarily blocking highways, and suspending ferries, China’s meteorology agency stated in a notification.
Authorities also advised motorists to pull over in a safe parking spot when conditions called for it and recommended residents to remain indoors.
If the capital issues its highest air pollution warning, Beijing has indicated it will execute traffic control measures.
For a few days, heavy smog covered the country’s north, as autumn temperatures surged to usual early summer levels nearing 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in some parts.
Experts believe that weak cold air currents from the north pole were a major cause of the strange weather.
As air pollution levels in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area and the northern section of Henan province reached moderate to severe levels, pollution control specialists claimed increasing industrial activities, heavy trucking, and crop fires had all contributed to the haze, according to official television CCTV.
Regional electricity consumption increased by 5% in late October compared to the first half of the month, with circumstances worsening in the cement, brick, and tile industries.
The National Meteorological Centre (NMC) reported severe fog in parts of Tianjin municipality, Hebei and Shandong provinces, as well as eastern regions of Jiangsu province, resulting in visibility of less than 1 km (0.62 mile) on Tuesday morning.
Light to moderate haze will continue to envelop the centre and southern parts of China’s northern region until Thursday, with severe haze anticipated in the central parts, according to the NMC.
Cold air currents are expected to rush in from the north beginning Thursday night, providing conditions that could decrease and evaporate the haze, according to the weather forecaster.
PM2.5 Air Quality in China
Smog in China has been a significant environmental issue for many years. Smog is a type of air pollution that is characterized by a mixture of smoke and fog, primarily composed of pollutants such as particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and ground-level ozone. The main sources of smog in China are industrial emissions, vehicular pollution, and coal-fired power plants.
China has faced significant air quality challenges, particularly related to PM2.5 pollution. PM2.5 refers to particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller, which can be inhaled into the lungs and pose serious health risks. These particles can come from various sources, including industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust, construction activities, and natural sources like dust and wildfires.
Despite these efforts, some regions in China still experience periods of poor air quality, particularly during the winter when coal heating and weather conditions can lead to smog and high PM2.5 levels. It’s important to note that air quality can vary greatly from one city to another and from season to season in China.
Efforts to improve air quality in China are ongoing, and the country continues to work on reducing PM2.5 levels and the associated health risks. The effectiveness of these measures varies by region, and continued vigilance and action are necessary to address air pollution and its impact on public health.
In recent years, China has made efforts to address its air quality issues, which have been a major public health concern.
Several factors have contributed to the severity of smog in China:
- Industrialization: China’s rapid industrialization and economic growth have led to increased industrial emissions. Many factories and industries release pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution.
- Coal consumption: China has been heavily reliant on coal for its energy needs. Burning coal for power generation and heating has been a major source of air pollution. The use of low-quality coal in some regions has exacerbated the problem.
- Vehicle emissions: The rapid increase in the number of vehicles on Chinese roads has led to higher levels of air pollution from exhaust emissions. The use of vehicles with outdated emissions standards and a lack of stringent regulation has aggravated the issue.
- Geography and weather: Certain geographical and meteorological conditions can exacerbate smog in China. For example, Beijing is surrounded by mountains, which can trap pollutants and prevent them from dispersing. Stagnant weather conditions, such as temperature inversions, can also trap pollutants closer to the ground.
The Chinese government has recognized the severity of the smog problem and has taken various measures to address it. These measures include stricter emission standards for industries and vehicles, efforts to reduce coal consumption, the promotion of clean energy sources, and the implementation of regional smog control plans. Additionally, China has invested in air quality monitoring and public awareness campaigns to tackle air pollution.
While progress has been made in reducing smog levels in some regions, it remains a significant environmental challenge in parts of China, especially during the winter months when heating demands are high. Efforts to improve air quality continue to be a priority for the Chinese government, as smog has negative impacts on public health, the environment, and overall quality of life