The Air Pollution in China
China is now faced with serious air pollution, such as PM2.5, NOx and SO2. It’s time to take effective and strict measures on pollution control. People should heighten the environmental awareness and take simple steps in normal. Meantime, government have to formulate relevant laws and regulations to create a harmonious society.
Keywords: China, air pollution, regulations.
1 Status of Air Pollution in China
Air quality has become a big topic in recent years. Tens of millions of people across China have been forced to cope with high levels of PM2.5 — particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that can penetrate the lungs and harm the respiratory, cardiovascular, cerebral vascular and nervous systems. Air pollution is not just about sore throats, but really more of a matter of life or death. The harmful effects that smog can have on the human body are one of the top concerns among those who reside in the country’s bigger cities.
Due to the coal dominating energy structure, the urban atmospheric environment in China has been seriously polluted by high concentrations of NOx and SO2 since many years ago. With the rapid development of economy, urbanization and transportation in the past two decades, vehicle exhaust pollution also aggravated. Within the last two decades, all types of environmental problems, which were experienced for nearly a century in developed countries, exploded in the developed regions in China. Regional air pollution complex, combined with coal-combustion pollution and vehicle-exhaust pollution has emerged in key city clusters of China, which was characterized as a complex of local and regional pollution and multi-pollutants. Regional air quality has a trend of exacerbation with the frequent occurance of photochemical smog, regional haze and acid deposition, and the health risks from toxic and harmful air pollutants.
In some sense, traffic jam is one of the most severe problems disturbing traffic in Beijing for a long time and retards the development of economy. So congested a city as it is, Beijing has gotten a quality report on city life with ten ranking decreasing this year. The traffic topes among the entire factors.
This is indeed the case. The problem has been brought to the close notice of local authorities, especially more and more traffic research institutes. Though they have a commitment to traffic jam study, the consequences are anything but satisfactory. At the mention of traffic, Wang Qishan, mayor of Beijing, has expressed his disappointment several times about congested situation in the public. Traffic in Beijing is facing a challenge again while Olympic 2008 is coming. On the other hand, opportunity is equal to challenge if we go out of our way to discover the rub. There are some consensual opinions below.
First of all, unreasonable city planning is the primary reason, not the number of motor vehicle in nature, for Tokyo has an unchecked traffic flow with the motor quantity of 7200,000, and Beijing has usual traffic jam with only 2000,000 instead. Nowadays, it is the circle roads that support more than half of traffic density, which makes its rush hour traffic intolerable.
Secondly, Compared with some big cities in the world, the quantity of taxies in Beijing is larger than any of them. Taxies occupy 30% to 40% road area, 37% to 50% ones empty.
Thirdly, high – density shopping center leads district jam. In weekend, especially in seven –day holidays like the National Day, most of citizens go out only for sports, and then vehicles rush to shopping center and entertainment district, then the traffic there is beyond wildest guess.
In a word, effective measures are needed for traffic nowadays. Public methods, just like subway and bus, are one of the good ways against traffic jam. Intelligent transportation system study is pushed forward also. Another way, timely traffic control is feasible. While China-Africa summit was held, these measures were effective to a certain degree.
2 Emissions of Major Air Pollutants in the Country
Coal accounts for 70 percent of China’s energy consumption. This fact is hard to change in a short term. In terms of the coal use method, 80 percent of the coal was for direct combustion. Among others, coal-fired power plants burn 50 percent of the total coal in China. Coal burning is the major source of ambient SO2, NOx, and soot.
China’s coal consumption experienced an increase by more than 800 million tons, over 500 million tons of which went to thermal power industry. The findings of relevant studies have shown that about 20,000 yuan of economic losses occurred with every ton of SO2 emission, and air pollution, especially acid rain has significantly constrained the efforts in achieving the goal of building a Xiaokang Society in an all-round way.
Motor vehicles, industrial production, coal and dust are the main sources of particulate matter pollution in most Chinese cities, accounts from 85% to 90%. Motor vehicles are primary pollution source in Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen. While in Shijiazhuang, Nanjing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Ningbo, the primary pollution source were dust, current source, industrial production Respectively.At present, our country has the grim situation of air pollution, the environment problems characterized by regional atmospheric pollutants such as particulate matter (PM10) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increase prominently, do great harm to people’s health and affect social harmony and stability.
3 How can we control air pollution in the environment?
Air pollution has become a serious problem in recent years. There are a lot of causes. First of all, is the chemical noxious gases emission. We all know that there are a lot of factories around the world, they are actually emitting such gases everyday. The second one is the sharp decrease of the forests. Forest is very important to our Eco-system, it can adjust the heat and balance the air. The third one is the urbanization. People tend to stay in the city where is actually an abnormal Eco-system. Many cities do not have a complete system of controlling the air pollution.
In order to solve such problems, there are some simple ways to control air pollution in our daily life.
Drive less, ride bicycle or walk instead.
Replace all the lightbulbs in and around your home with energy-efficient fluorescents that use fewer watts for the same amount of light.
Choose energy-efficient appliances when it’s time to buy new ones.
Decrease your air travel.
Wash clothes in cold water and line-dry whenever possible.
Use a low-flow showerhead, which will lessen the hot water used but not drop your water pressure in the shower.
Cut down on your garbage buy fewer packaged materials
Unplug electronics when they are not in use, because they still take up energy.
Insulate your home better
Buy recycled paper products and recycle as much of your waste as possible.
Plant a tree.
Use nontoxic cleaning products.
4 No Place to Hide
However, like you could see when examining crime statistics, it’s not the polluters you can see that are the problem. It’s the ones that have drawn a veil, and worked in places where governments will let them have a free hand, who cause the most damage.China has, in the last thirty years, doubled in the total amount of land area that qualifies as a desert.She has also lost a substantial amount of the forest cover on her land. This environmental change is causing people from the rural northwest part of China to seek new lives along the river network in the heart of the country, along the China air pollution central region, the new Industrial Corridor.
Unfortunately, the Industrial Corridor, most of which has factories built, or purchased from overseas and transported inland, is one of the major garbage pollution belts in China. Wastewater outlets are causing fish to die off and raising the incidences of liver, stomach and jaw cancers in people living in the villages near the factories to skyrocket.
China’s extensive effort to make rapid modernizations and create industrialization has resulted in the need and means for the Three Gorges Dam, which provides hydroelectric power for much of Northern China. It’s also displaced tens of millions of people who used to live, fish and farm along the Yangtze River, and caused more of the China air pollution and urban problems to expand.
While China is the manufactory of the world, it’s also the largest consumer of illegally harvested timber. China’s rapid pace of industrialization in the early 21st century meant that a new coal fired plant opened up roughly ever two weeks during this period in China. Furthermore, China’s coal mining operations are causing underground fires that spit out tonnes of CO2, carbon dioxide, every day.
5 China Environmental Regulations
China does not regulate environmental issues the way the Western world does; in a very real sense, China is trying to catch up with the West industrially, without paying the surcharge that environmental sustainability will impose.
This attitude created the Ten Year Boom, which culminated in increasing Beijing pollution and the 2008 Olympics, but also created an acid rain problem that impacts Korea and Japan while the soot and dust clouds of China air pollution sometimes reach the western United States and Canada.
There is cause for hope. The same economic collapse that’s driving down American and Western European consumption has caused a disproportionate ripple effect in the Chinese economy, which is driven largely by exports. Because the costs of Chinese environmental degradation was offset by the growth in GDP from the Ten Year Boom, it was easy to overlook the issue. Now that there isn’t a booming economy like before, the costs of China air pollution are coming home and becoming all too real.
The government of China has put out a 600 billion dollar program to boost sustainability and environmental regulations, including strong incentives to build more nuclear power plants, which are far less polluting. The incentives also improve waste water treatment, and rubbish disposal. Hopefully they will also boost the cleanliness of the transportation sector, by increasing the use of electric or compressed air cars. Everything China does on an environmental scale will be a large scale experiment. The outcome is still surrounded by some doubt. But there is hope.
In the whole month of January, only five days were not covered by heavy smog in Beijing. The city is now seeing an increasing amount of face masks on the streets and sales for air purifiers have also shot up as a result of recent ongoing pollution. The smog has made residents more conscious about potential health risks. Many have taken steps to reduce the impact of the city’s toxic air as much as they can. Li Dong has the details.
PM2.5 is one of the major pollutants of the air pollution in Beijing and it poses the greatest risk to human health. Its concentration reached a record high of 993 on January 12, almost 50 times the World Health Organization’s recommended level. PM2.5 levels across most of Beijing have been above 400 micrograms per cubic meter for much of the last two weeks.
When the air is this hazardous, the government recommends people avoid outdoor activities. But many must still go outside causing a sharp increase in the use of face masks. Lulu is a Beijing resident. “I felt the smog was really thick yesterday, it hurts my throat and hurts to breathe. So I started to wear a mask today. The air pollution is really serious.” Face mask sales are going through the roof both online and in-store. The most popular face mask retailer on Taobao, China’s leading online shopping website, has sold more than 112,000 masks in the past month.
Tong Ren Tang, a large pharmacy, has also seen a dramatic increase in mask sales in recent weeks. A sales clerk says: “The pollution has been very severe the past weeks. There has been a sharp increase in face mask sales in recent weeks compared with the same period last year. “The ongoing air pollution is raising health concerns among Beijing residents. Many are choosing to travel out of the city to avoid the thick smog, while others are purchasing air purifiers to filter indoor air. Officials have closed some factories and ordered some government cars off the road to reduce emissions. They have also proposed rules to scrap old vehicles and to ban new cement and steel factories.
TOTO Beijing is the only big ceramics factory in the capital city. One of its production procedures creates dust pollution. With air pollution escalating in the last several days, the city government told the factory to cut production. Han Yong, deputy general manager of TOTO Beijing says halting production means big losses for the factory. “Stopping our two plants in Beijing means we lose 1 million yuan or about 160,000 US dollars per day at the eastern factory and 0.8 million yuan at the western factory. “TOTO Beijing is only one of a 103 high-polluting factories that have completely stopped production since Tuesday. Authorities say they were cutting the use of government vehicles by all departments by 30 percent.
However, once the smog gets lighter and the alert is lifted, factories will be back in production again. They may need to intensify production to make up for their losses, so the problem has not really been solved. Many believe that the government will have to do more to cut the pollution sources, because temporary responses are not enough.
As everyone who’s ever visited or lived in China knows, in recent years the air pollution problem has become enormous. When you fly in to China it’s often in to an insipid pall of pollution, especially if you are flying in to Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou. The yellowish cloud of toxicity that overlies many Chinese cities is legendary.
The air pollution is a combination of things, industrial burning and cooling etc as well as vehicles and other sources, with industry being the major polluter. The problem is not just limited to the air, groundwater and soil pollution is now so bad in China that the PRC central government refused to release it’s last survey results. This maybe due to the fact that they don’t want to panic the population or scare of investment.
What can be done about it? Well a lot can be done, firstly China should enforce and reinforce it’s own pollution laws and then ensure the standards are up to the same as in the first world. Massive fines for serial polluters helps, I’d suggest fines of 10-20% of gross revenue for a year if a business fails to meet the emissions standards. To combat corruption automatic metering systems should be fitted to all smoke stacks and generators and results checked by at least 5 offices around China with the offices receiving the data at random. No factory identification other than a number should be given to the office. This would eliminate bribery of pollution monitoring officers. Companies whose meters are inoperable should be fined 10% of gross annual turnover for each day the meters are inoperable. A massive carrot and stick is required to ensure adherence to the law. The same basic concept can be used to help combat water pollution. Recycling probably needs to be better organized. Financial bonuses in the form of tax breaks for companies that use green packaging and or recycle waste would help.
China could also look at imitating best global practices from around the world. The use of LED lighting for example as well as energy management schemes and anti-pollution techniques developed in the west are only going to help China in the long term.