North China Is Choking On The Smog: Air Pollution Is Killing People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

FRESH air is becoming a luxury for many Chinese. Especially in northern China where many areas been wrapped in heavy smog since last weekend prompting 23 cities to activate red alerts, the highest in a four-tier warning system for severe weather.

Beijing’s environmental monitoring center warned of worse to come today though the smog should disperse overnight due to a north wind.

At least nine of the city’s expressways were closed yesterday morning and, by 2pm, 273 flights had been canceled at Beijing Capital International Airport.

Lessons at kindergartens and primary schools in Beijing, Tianjin, Xi’an and Zhengzhou were suspended, with some high schools also affected.

Beijing-based magazine DUKU sent an apology letter to subscribers, saying its last edition of 2016 would not reach readers until after the New Year due to the temporary closure of a printing plant under the red alert.

Many ready-to-eat products are absent from shelves because of a ban on delivery trucks.

According to a circular released by the neighboring city of Langfang, all restaurants and breakfast stalls in county seats without equipment to deal with fumes have been ordered to halt operations until December 31. Also suspended, until mid-March, are all construction projects in the city.

Escape to Hainan

A resident of Lanzhou, capital of northwest China’s Gansu Province, told reporters in southern China’s Hainan Province that she had flown there with her 2-year-old granddaughter to escape the smog.

“We feel much better here than in Lanzhou,” she said.

Li and her friends are planning to buy houses in Hainan where they can escape during smoggy winters.

On Sunday, two days after Beijing’s red alert, the airport in Haikou, Hainan’s capital, welcomed 32,155 inbound passengers, the highest since October’s National Day holiday.

Liu Lijuan, a fruit and vegetable seller in Hebei Province, says her customers, most of them migrant workers, have little to spend because of work shutdowns due to the smog.

Hebei, one of China’s major steel and coal mining provinces, has shut thousands of factories, construction sites, and even fried-food stalls under red alerts.

“Our company was ordered to halt production on November 20, and 160 of our workers have been temporarily laid off,” said Tian Pengjie at a gypsum factory in the province.

Even under the red alerts, some companies have carried on polluting the air. Xu Ganlu, deputy governor of Henan Province, said the power consumption of the nearly 3,000 companies ordered to halt production had not reduced, indicating they did not halt production. Another 900 companies ordered to limit production did not make any reductions.

India Supreme Court Tells Government To Clean Up New Delhi’s Air: If People Can’t Breathe All Industry Will Stop

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

SC okays Centre’s action plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR

INDIA Updated: Dec 03, 2016 01:02 IST

Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times
The grading system will ensure that certain steps can be automatically introduced. When air quality dips, the odd-even car rationing formula will kick in, along with closure of schools, a four-fold hike in parking fee, ban on entry of trucks, and halt in construction activities.The order came after the top court approved the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) “graded response action plan” that outlines measures based on air quality — moderate to poor, very poor, severe, and severe-plus or emergency. A separate set of action plan has been suggested for each category.

A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur asked the board to install real-time and manual pollution monitoring stations in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to check air quality for the graded response.

Smoke from farm fires, construction dusts, exhaust fumes from vehicles and factories, and firecrackers combined to shroud New Delhi and its satellite cities in their worst smog for 17 years after Diwali in November. The government was forced to take emergency steps such as closing schools and halting construction, while the judiciary too chipped in with stinging remarks against administrative inaction to clean up the Capital’s foul air.

“Do you want to wait till people start dying? People are gasping for breath,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Thakur said then.

The board, which the top court had pulled up for failing to make a roadmap to reduce air pollution, said severe and very poor air quality are common during winter: November to February.

The air quality index is measured on the basis of PM2.5 and PM10 in the atmosphere, which are tiny particles of dust that can cause grave respiratory disorder and damage the lungs.

The situation becomes severe or emergency when PM2.5 level is above 300 microgram per cubic meter or PM10 crosses the 500-mark. In such a scenario, authorities will close schools, stop the entry of diesel trucks into the Capital, halt construction activities, introduce the odd-even scheme for private vehicles, and hike parking fees.

The graded response fixes responsibility on the agency that has to enforce the measure.

Ban on diesel generators, construction and burning of garbage on landfill sites will kick in if the air index is very poor, with PM2.5 between 121 and 250.

When air quality is moderate or poor, the steps to be taken are ban on garbage burning, watering of fly ash ponds, closure of brick kilns and polluting industries, and mechanised sweeping of roads.