Shenyang air pollution breaks China’s record on Nov 8 with 1,400 microgrammes of PM2.5

By @vitthernandez on
Shenyang Air Pollution
A woman wearing a mask walks outside the old palace museum on a hazy day in Shenyang, Liaoning province, November 8, 2015. As winter heating started in the city, the reading of PM2.5 was more than 1000 micrograms per cubic metre on Sunday, according to local media. Picture taken November 8, 2015. Reuters/Stringer

The Chinese city of Shenyang broke on Sunday, Nov 8, the country’s air pollution record by registering 1,400 microgrammes of PM2.5. That is 56 times the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended safe level of concentrations of particulates less than 2.5 microns in diameter. Shenyang is the capital of the Chinese province of Liaoning.

The dirty air, described by Associated Press as hitting “Doomsday levels,” grounded flights, closed roads and led local officials to order residents to stay indoors as visibility in the northeastern industrial city dropped to a few dozen feet, reports the New York Times.  Face masks were sold out on Sunday and Monday, while residents with respiratory ailments filled local hospitals, reports CCT.

The provincial government deployed teams to 14 cities to ensure that all emergency measures were followed strictly. The measures included indoor stay for residents, no outdoor activities for schools and kindergartens, limit or stop manufacturing activities, suspension of construction work and road excavations, and a ban on burning of crop residue and fireworks, reports Xinhua.

Dong Liansai, Greenpeace campaigner, says that based on pollution level data that the environment group has been tracking, it is the highest PM2.5 level recorded since 2013. But while Shenyang broke the national records, the city residents are not alone in choking from the smog.

In October, Greenpeace said that 80 percent of Chinese cities went beyond the PM2.5 national standard of 35 microgrammes per cubic metre. Using WHO benchmarks, 367 Chinese cities have PM2.5 levels that exceed fourfold the organisation’s guidelines.

The high concentrations of PM2.5 enter the lungs and is absorbed into the bloodstream. Pollution has been blamed for several ailments such as cardio diseases, stroke, emphysema and lung cancer. Because of China’s very dirty air caused mainly by factory and vehicle emissions, 1.6 million Chinese die yearly, according to a report by Berkeley Earth. That’s because coal accounts for 66 percent of China’s energy mix. In 2012, China used more than 4 billion tonnes of coal.

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