China is miserably failing in confronting its industrial pollution. For the first time, the government of China is acknowledging the existence of “cancer villages” – areas with extremely high cancer rates located near highly-polluting industrial plants. What does it profit China if it gains the whole world but loses its right to even breathe?
Fireworks not only lit up Beijing’s night sky during the annual Lantern Festival last Sunday, but also increased PM2.5 readings (airborne particles measured by micrograms per cubic metre) far above safe levels. PM2.5 levels are more than 25 times World Health Organisation standards. These airborne particles cause respiratory problems and cancer. In certain areas, the level reached 561, a reading regarded as “severely polluted”.
Beijing authorities issued a fireworks ban today in Beijing’s downtown until the next Lunar New Year. Yesterday, they had announced a smog alert and called on residents to reduce the smoky celebrations and stay indoors.
In recent years, pollution in Beijing has worsened. Beijing’s air quality has frequently made headlines in the last several months. The government has vowed to put in place more measures to combat air pollution in the capital by temporarily close down factories and restricting vehicles on roads. However, the need to maintain high growth levels has prevented these action to meet international environmental standards.