Smog Closes an Entire Chinese City - KMSP-TV

Smog Closes an Entire Chinese City

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You have heard of snow days in Minnesota, but what about a smog day?? That's exactly what happened to many business and schools in the city of Harbin in northeastern China. The city reportedly had experienced more than 24 hours of "beyond index" pollution levels, with visibility down to 50 yards.

Smog readings in Harbin on Oct. 21 were at the highest level of "Severely Polluted," and were beyond the maximum index level of 500 for the second day in a row. The particulate matter in the air was as much as 40 times what is considered safe air over a 24-hour period.

According to Chinese state media, the city issued its highest pollution alert for Harbin and surrounding cities. Elementary and middle school classes were canceled, and the international airport was completely shut down as were some bus lines due to visibility of about 10-50 yards.

Chinese cities often have unsafe levels of pollution, which come mostly from vehicles and power plants burning fuels.

Beijing issued new pollution fighting regulations on Oct. 17. The new rules call for cars with odd and even numbered license plates to be allowed on the road on alternating days when pollution is high; increased street washing on those days; and school closures, among other regulations.

Beijing experienced heavy smog themselves from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 throughout the city. The undoctored image above shows the same view: the image on the left shows hills 15 miles away, while the one on the right shows visibility at just a few hundred yards. The air cleared on Oct. 7.

In June, China's State Council approved a series of anti-pollution measures and promised to help its solar energy sector. The effort, which seeks to cut emissions by 30% between now and 2017, requires polluters to install or improve pollution control equipment, or face stiff penalties.

The World Health Organization said Oct. 17 that outdoor air pollution is carcinogenic to humans and is a leading cause of cancer worldwide. Air pollution now falls under the same classification as tobacco smoke, asbestos, plutonium, silica dust, and ultraviolet radiation.

After looking at decades of data, U.S., Israeli and Chinese researchers found that smog in northern China has led to people dying 5.5 years earlier. Another study found that in 2010 in China, 1.2 million people died early from air pollution—which ranks behind diet, blood pressure and smoking as a health risk.

The information in this article is courtesy of circa.

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