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December 21 Dr. Chien’s Eco-report: Mainland Chinese Haze and Smog Hazards

In recent years, mainland Chinese haze and smog hazards have continued unabated, and constitute serious public health hazards. Coal continues to serve as the mainland's key energy resource, and when the winter cold sets in, the mainland relies on increased coal burning for heat, resulting in greatly expanded pollution particles in the air, which along with the reduced winter rains, means the airborne pollution is not cleansed through rain, causing the substantial mainland Chinese haze and smog hazards.

 

While in the past the mainland only suffered haze hazards in the north, the recent trend has been to expand throughout the south as well. On December 6, 2013, Shanghai suffered a severe haze, when the Air Quality Index (AQI) was 458 micrograms per cubic meter, or more than one time higher the most “severe pollution” level. The amount of particulate matter which adversely affects human health, of PM2.5 size, reached 602 micrograms per cubic meter, or 21 times the international standard. Clearly the evidence indicates that the haze hazard has reached a serious level of pollution. 

 

These airborne particulate matter, are carried with the winter airstream across the sea, to places such as Taiwan, Japan, Korea and East Asia, in particular, with serious long-term consequences. Moreover such air pollution is not the result of a single day or short period, but the accumulation of the past decades, so to improve the environment, and abate haze hazards, will require substantial collaboration between the public authorities and enterprises working together, to help achieve industrial restructuring and adjustments, helping reduce polluting industries, while working to leave the next generation with a clean environment.