• Fri
  • Nov 28, 2014
  • Updated: 5:59pm

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 reunited with 'long-lost' blue skies as cold spell clears haze

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 3:47am

Beijing residents saw a return of "long-lost" blue skies yesterday, with air quality improving to levels labelled "good" by the US embassy after hitting hazardous levels on 20 days last month.

Still, concerns over the smog that had blanketed the capital, as well as nearby northern and eastern provinces, have prompted the Beijing authorities to ask residents to set off fewer fireworks during the Lunar New Year.

The concentration of PM2.5, fine air particles that pose the greatest health risk, was 14 micrograms per cubic metre at 9am, according to the embassy. The level near Tiananmen Square fell to four from an average of 100, Beijing's environmental monitoring centre said yesterday.

Every day in January, Peak readings from the US embassy exceeded the World Health Organisation's recommendation for daily exposure of no higher than 25. The daily average last month was 196 micrograms per cubic metre, with an intraday high of 886 on January 12.

The China Meteorological Administration said a cold spell bringing precipitation dissipated fog and haze on the mainland. "Beijing welcomed long-lost blue skies this morning," it said.

"The fog and haze that has persisted for days will end its domination of the central and eastern regions", which would see snow and rain over the weekend, it said.

From January 1 to 28, Beijing had 23 smoggy days, about 10 more than the same period over the past 10 years and the most since 1954, said Liang Xudong, head of the Beijing Urban Meteorology Institute.

Meanwhile, the Beijing office on fireworks yesterday called on residents to refrain from setting off fireworks during the Lunar New Year that starts on February 10, "in order to reduce emissions of pollutants", Xinhua reported.

After hours of fireworks during last year's holiday, the density of PM2.5 increased sharply to 1,593 micrograms per cubic metre in downtown Beijing, 1.5 times higher than the most polluted day so far in the capital.


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China’s car culture is incongruent with its large land block culture even which are found even in the middle of city with scary few streets. When land block size couldn’t be reduced to create more public roads, serious road congestions will remain if without a great reduction of cars. In fact a further expansion in subway services in Beijing is of limited help to clear road congestion and ultimately related air pollution.
When comes to attributing air pollution to cars it is as important as to count cars as roads servicing them. Beijing has very few roads to compare for the many cars to use. Furthermore, with large land blocks, street intersections are few which reduce opportunities for alternate routes. All of these factors contribute to blocked traffics which inevitably with idling cars pumping exhaust fumes into air while waiting for clearance. Here we have few statistics in comparing the street grid of Beijing with Manhattan. Take a land block in central Beijing bounded by 建国门外大街, 东三环中路, 光华路, 西大望路covering an area of 810,000 square meter which later针织路 was put into service (another road was added since my research). There are 5 roads verses 21 covering equal land area in Manhattan. Consequently, the area in Beijing has mere 6 intersections verses 54 in Manhattan to facilitate traffic movement. Even that, the city mayor imposed a limit for inbound cars into Manhattan when traffic congestions became severe. The traffic lights in Manhattan are synchronized so to work efficiently for cars and pedestrians moving in large batches (no flyovers or overpasses required like in Beijing).


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