The northeastern city of Harbin is being smothered with smog so thick you can’t see more than 33 feet (~10 meters) in some places. School has been cancelled, roads closed and airplanes are grounded.
Reuters reports that the level of harmful particulate matter in the air is 40 times higher than what the World Health Organization (WMO) says is safe. There have been several readings of exactly 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter — a safe level under WMO guidelines is 25 micrograms per cubic meter.
Winter usually brings the worst air pollution to northern China due to a combination of weather conditions and coal usage to warm buildings increases. Harbin’s troubles come the day after the city turned on its heaters and is sure to worry residents as the region is faced with the promise of another long, cold winter.
China’s pollution problem is the result of factory emissions and massive growth in the number of vehicles on the road. In September of this year, Beijing unveiled a new plan for improving the air by 2017 which will cost about $817 billion USD, with $163 billion to be spent in the capital alone.
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-The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team