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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 9:03am

Beijing air pollution

The Chinese capital has for many years suffered from serious air pollution. Primary sources of pollutants include exhaust emission from Beijing's more than five million motor vehicles, coal burning in neighbouring regions, dust storms from the north and local construction dust. A particularly severe smog engulfed the city for weeks in early 2013, elevating public awareness to unprecedented levels and prompting the government to roll out emergency measures. 


'Beijing cough' an insult to capital, says doctor

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 11:12am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 8:52pm

A top doctor has claimed that naming a chronic respiratory problem "Beijing cough" is an insult to the capital.

The condition, exacerbated in recent weeks by hazardous air pollution, was given its nickname by expats.

But Dr He Quanying of Peking University People's Hospital objected strongly to the term, saying it is impossible to link the symptoms to just air pollution, or one particular city. He, director of the respiratory department at Peking University People's Hospital, said the name "Beijing cough", which went viral on social media last week, had yet to make it into official medical lexicon.

"Before you can find clear evidence of a [causal link], using the term 'Beijing cough' is an extreme insult to Beijing," He told the Economic Information Daily. He said coughs could be caused by smoking, overeating, weather change and the flu season. Foreigners in Beijing often complain of a dry cough and itchy throat between December and April.

Professor Pan Xiaochuan, of Peking University's Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, said such coughs were not particular to Beijing. They are also present in other polluted cities, he said.  

Since air pollution started hitting record highs earlier this month, Beijing expats and locals alike have turned to social media to vent their grievances.

"'Beijing burning sensation' is more accurate," a Twitter user said. Another joked Peking cough had become more famous than Peking duck or opera. On Sina Weibo, a user said Beijing was the world's "cough capital". The density of health-threatening PM2.5, or particulate matters with a diameter of 2.5 microns, hit 400 micrograms per cubic metre in parts of Beijing on Saturday.

A week before that saw the index hit 755. The World Health Organisation has a guideline mean level of 25 mcg.

Beijing Children's Hospital admitted over 800 children for nebuliser lung therapy in the last week, an above average increase.

Correction: an earlier version of the story erroneously attributed some comments by Dr. He Quanying to Professor Pan Xiaochuan in the 3rd and 4th paragraphs. The current version is the correct one. 


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This article is now closed to comments

What an idiot. If people can just shove their chaunvinistic sentiments up their rear end and be open-minded and realistic for a change. It's just a layterm term for godssake who cares about its linguistic technicality instead of wasting your time arguing the terminology maybe you can divert your energy to deal with what's more important than a friggin' word! China may have all its first world infrastructure in next twenty years but the mentality is still pretty much stuck in its backward 3rd world sinocentric view. This is just another example..
I think this Peking University doctor has a very valid point: as a family doctor here in Beijing I don't like this term "Beijing cough" at all. I think it's gimmicky and trivializing, and more importantly, it just isn't very accurate. There simply isn't anything so unique about Beijing's air compared to other polluted cities that gives everyone here a uniquely Beijing cough. Of course I see plenty of patients with coughs and lung problems, and of course our recent pollution has been spectacularly bad. But this trendy "Beijing cough" term does nothing to address the complex reality here.
"by expats with immune systems that had not "acclimatised"
Man I hope i could acclimatised to poison one day !
Also other people won't complain because they have live with it and don't know what a clean air is.
No complaints from local doesn't mean no problem at all.
Typical CCP misdirection. Look at the foreigners insulting our country over there! Don't look here and see our children suffering and elderly dying from respiratory ailments...
quote: He also said the cough is like a “medicine” and that most people's immune systems would eventually be acclimatised to such conditions.
Well, a true member of the KPC, where a chronical disease is almost a medicine and whole trains are buried.
Somehow one has to love China!
Beijing cough is not an insult. It is a reality. Happy to meet the doctor and cough in his face right away. Been battling the bloody cough since early December. I has never been as bad as this winter.
The prof is correct - "this was not a unique phenomenon to Beijing and such “coughs” were also present in other polluted cities". Since it's common across the country it should be the China Cough instead...
Suck it up, prof!
Living in Beijing, as the prof does, he has to involuntarily suck it up...
Denying a problem is not a solution to solving the problem.



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