Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

9 Chinese Cities Exceeded Beijing's Abysmal 2013 Air Pollution Levels

Energy
9 Chinese Cities Exceeded Beijing's Abysmal 2013 Air Pollution Levels

By Christine Ottery

Residents in twenty-nine Chinese cities experienced more than a month of "emergency" air pollution levels last year, according to an analysis of newly published data by Energydesk and Greenpeace East Asia.

The collated real-time government data suggests nine large cities in China actually experienced more days of emergency smog levels than the capital Beijing.

Photo credit: Greenpeace

This analysis came after a winter of soaring air pollution levels in China’s cities and as the country's leaders “declared war on air pollution,” comparing the issue to poverty and capping or cutting coal use in many regions.

China's capital declares an air pollution emergency when levels of fine particulates (PM2.5) breach the emergency level of 150 micrograms per cubic meter or more in a day. The emergency threshold of PM2.5 correlates closely to the "very unhealthy" band of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index.

When Beijing's emergency threshold has been passed, alerts are issued on the radio and TV. Then action is taken depending on the severity of the air pollution—such as reducing numbers of cars on the road, restricting "vulnerable" groups such as the elderly and children indoors, and instructing power plants to cut emissions. Measures such as these were taken this winter during particularly bad episodes.

PM 2.5 is small enough to penetrate the lungs, which is why long-term exposure can lead to heart disease, strokes and lung disease, including cancer, according to the World Health Organization. In the short-term, it can also trigger asthma attacks.

CityDays of 'very unhealthy' or above
Xingtai129
Shijiazhuang119
Baoding99
Handan95
Hengshui94
Langfang87
Jinan76
Tangshan75
Zhengzhou66
Beijing60

Xingtai, a city in the heavily-industrial Hebei province to the southwest of Beijing, suffered more than double the amount of days above the emergency level than Beijing.

Xingtai’s 7.1 million citizens experienced 129 days of emergency level air pollution—more than a third of a year blanketed in pollution—whereas Beijing’s 11 million residents experienced 60 days. Shijiazhuang, at number two, is the capital of Hebei. In fact, seven of the top ten cities are in Hebei province.

Harbin, a city to the northeast of Beijing, was covered in the international media for some off-the charts daily highs of PM2.5 at 756 micrograms per cubic meter at its peak. But Harbin was exposed to less emergency level days than Beijing—at 50—and made number 16 in the league table.

 

In the map, the size of the bubbles represent the number of days China’s cities were at air pollution emergency levels. It shows there are concentrations of exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution in two main areas: south of Beijing in the industrialized provinces of Hebei, Shandong and Henan; and to the west and northwest of Shanghai, in another industrial heartland.

These are densely populated cities that are highly affected by air pollution—in the top ten alone, more than 30 million people live with these episodes of very unhealthy (or worse) air pollution, and around 90 million people live in the 29 cities that have suffered a month or more of emergency level air pollution.

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY and HEALTH pages for more related news on this topic.

Project goal: To create an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to leather, in this case using fungi.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Plastic waste is bulldozed at a landfill. Needpix

The plastic recycling model was never economically viable, but oil and gas companies still touted it as a magic solution to waste, selling the American public a lie so the companies could keep pushing new plastic.

Read More Show Less

Trending

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less
A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less
In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch