Current Events - Air Pollution in China Rachel Zhu - Ms. Wiegand, C Period

Even three years after China "declared war on pollution", the smog has continued to trouble the country and its citizens. After continuous action through policies and laws in a vain attempt to control and bring down pollution levels by shutting down factories that contribute to the air pollution, cities like Beijing, Tianjing, and Hebei are still being affected strongly.

Smog over Tianjing in Northern China
Residential Buildings in Wujiaqu

Fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns, or PM2.5, is one of China's smog's biggest dangers. PM2.5 is an "inhalable coarse particle", which could lead to irritation, chronic lung diseases, rapid loss of airway function, heart function, blood clots, heart attacks, and pneumonia. Hong Liao, the corresponding author of research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research said that PM pollution would be challenging to control in places like Beijing, Tianjing, Hebei, and the Sichuan Basin.

Studies done on China's smog show that nitrogen dioxide and ammonia - as well as other vaporous organic compounds - could be contributing strongly to problems. Nitrogen dioxide is a gaseous air pollutant that is produced by road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion processes. It contributes to the formation of other air pollutants like ozone and particulate matter, and acid rain as well as the smog. Ammonia is dangerous in a concentrated form, and is classified as an extremely hazardous substance in the United States. When ammonia reaches 500 ppm, it becomes lethal.

China's Highways and Lights, Dimmed by the Smog

Close to the Chinese New Year, air quality levels forced people to stay in their homes for days on end in Beijing, Tianjin and Xian, during a time when huge crowds usually rush to their respective homes by all means of transportation.

Air Quality in China on an Average Day

Around January 18, China asked its provinces to turn off smog warnings, after which the population began to fear that the government was trying to cover up dangerous levels of pollution. Local agencies stopped issuing the alerts because of their reluctance to slow down China's thriving economy by keeping workers home because of air pollution. Even with health concerns in mind, they chose to keep the pollution levels to themselves, keeping the economy going, rather than considering the dangers of the environment and people, a move which angered many residents. The meteorological administration, which used to forecast smog levels, was forced to end their actions after they argued with the environmental protection ministry and lost.

A Tree Surrounded by Smog in Shandong Province

The prevention of freedom of press in China could be linked closely to its affiliation with communism. Though communist beliefs seem to be fair and beneficial for building a community, in practice it tends to have one single, powerful party that holds control over the entire country, whether in political or economic situations. In order to prevent any kind of setback in China's economy, the government covered up smog levels and asked provinces to turn off the alerts. Even though their choice was understandable in their pursuit of making China an economic hub and imperial country, the drawbacks should have outweighed the benefits. Now, as the smog is getting worse and PM2.5 levels are often dangerously high, is a tense time in cities like Beijing, Tianjing, etc. Rather than worrying about other goals that improve China compared to other countries, the government should have worked with environmental protection agencies like Greenpeace East Asia or the Shanghai Qinyue Environmental Protection Center, which released reports that showed just how terrible the air quality was.

Air Pollution in Changchun


Agerholm, Harriet. "China Orders Local Officials to Stop Issuing Smog Alerts, Sparking Fears of Government Air Pollution Cover-Up." Independent, January 18, 2017.

I trust this source because it was written by Harriet Agerholm, a reporter/writer for the Independent, the Times of India, and the Guardian.

"Beijing Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)." Air Quality Index. Accessed February 5 2017.

I trust this source because it's a worldwide real-time air quality index, and its information is sourced from each country's Environmental Protection Agency.

EurekAlert! "Lifting the Fog on China's Unwieldy Air Pollution Problem." January 25, 2017. Accessed February 1, 2017.

I trust this source because it's the "Global Source for Science News", operated by AAAS, thE science society.

NewsRx. "Future PM2.5 Air Pollution over China." December 6, 2016.

I trust this source because it was from NewsRx, which "monitors all emerging research and discoveries". It was founded in 1984, and has been approved and claimed trustworthy by the NewYork Times, Smithsonian, the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News, and more.

Tan, Huileng. "China's Air Pollution Woes Need a Greater Clean-Up Push, Environmental Groups Say." CNBC, January 19, 2017. Accessed February 3, 2017.

I trust this source because it was written by Huileng Tan, a writer at CNBC who covers a broad range of topics in Asia. I also trust this source because CNBC is a world leader in business news.

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