Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Energy

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less
Left: Lemurs in Madagascar on March 30, 2017. Mathias Appel / Flickr. Right: A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. National Marine Fisheries Service

A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.

Read More Show Less
Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular. Colin Dunn / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Julia Vergin

It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Data from a scientist measuring macroalgal communities in rocky shores in the Argentinean Patagonia would be added to the new system. Patricia Miloslavich / University of Delaware

Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.

EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.

Read More Show Less