Dangerous smog angers Chinese
BEIJING — Chinese media have reacted strongly to dangerous levels of pollution recorded in many northern cities in recent days.
In the capital, Beijing, at the weekend, air pollution soared past levels considered hazardous by the World Health Organisation.
The official People’s Daily said the smog was a “suffocating siege” which had to be urgently addressed.
The state-run China Daily said the country had to learn to balance development with quality of life.
Meanwhile, the tabloid Global Times said China was risking serious long-term environmental damage. Smog also dominated social media sites.
Over the week, a dense smog had been gathering over Beijing and some 30 other cities in northern and eastern China, with visibility down to 100 metres in some places.
Official Beijing city readings on Saturday suggested pollution levels of over 400. An unofficial reading from a monitor at the US embassy recorded levels of over 800.
WHO guidelines say average concentrations of the tiniest pollution particles – called PM2.5 – should be no more than 25 microgrammes per cubic metre. Air is unhealthy above 100 microgrammes and at 300, all children and elderly people should remain indoors.
Once inhaled, the tiny particles can make people more vulnerable to respiratory infections, as well as leading to increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease.
The Xinhua state news agency said there had been a sharp rise in people seeking treatment at the hospitals in the capital for respiratory problems. (BBC)