Posts Tagged ‘smoke’

282 hot spots detected across Indonesia

August 6, 2017

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, fire, sky and outdoor

Indonesia — Fire-fighting operations in South Sumatra, one of the five provinces currently in a state of emergency. Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB)

JAKARTA – Indonesian satellites on Sunday (Aug 6) morning picked up 282 hot spots – believed to be the highest number across the country this year – as the dry season continues.

The worst hit province was West Kalimantan, where more than half of the hot spots were detected, said National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman, Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, as he released the figures yesterday (Aug 6) evening.

Five districts in the province – Kubu Raya, Ketapang, Sekadau, Melawi and Bengkayang – have declared a state of emergency to enable local authorities to access central government support, including military assistance, to put out the fires.

Dr Sutopo also expressed concern that although 150 hot spots were detected across West Kalimantan, the number of fires there may be higher.

“Land and forest fires in West Kalimantan continue despite our continued efforts to suppress them,” he added.

He warned that the number of hot spots is probably higher as the satellites may not have passed over all the forest and land areas where fires could be burning.

Other areas in Indonesia were also hit by forest fires, albeit not as badly as in 2015 when the burning of forest and peatland in Kalimantan and Sumatra produced a transboundary haze, which blanketed the region and led to record air pollution levels for months.

Aside from those in West Kalimantan, the hot spots were spread across other provinces such as South Sumatra (23 hot spots), South Sulawesi (18), Riau (16) and East Nusa Tenggara (12).

Dr Sutopo said the hot spots were spotted on private plantation land, community-owned land and in national parks, in hard-to-reach locations.

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An Indonesian woman and a child walk on a bamboo bridge as thick yellow haze shrouds Palangkaraya on Oct 22, 2015. AFP photo

“The areas burned are generally areas that are difficult to access and away from settlements, that is why (the fires) are difficult to extinguish,” he added.

As of Saturday, 18 helicopters have been deployed for fire-fighting operations in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan. All five provinces are currently in a state of emergency.

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said last Sunday that helicopters will deployed to put out fires over areas where there is limited road access.

“If land access is difficult or shut down for a long time, then we will use water-bombings,” she said.

The dry season in Indonesia is forecast to end in September, at the earliest.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/282-hot-spots-detected-across-indonesia-on-sunday

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Carbon monoxide concentrations world-wide during the Indonesian burning season, 2015

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Indonesian military officer orders that forest burners be shot — authorities struggle to contain fires that cause choking smoke in the region

August 5, 2017

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An Indonesian ranger inspecting the peat forest fire at Meulaboh, Aceh province. PHOTO: AFP 

JAKARTA (REUTERS) – A military official in the Indonesian province of Jambi said on Saturday (Aug 5) that he has ordered that anyone who deliberately sets fire to forest areas be shot, as the authorities struggle to contain fires that cause choking smoke in the region.

Five Indonesian provinces have declared emergencies because of forest fires, according to Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), with the number of hotspots steadily increasing in many areas over the past week.

The BNPB is working with many government branches, including the military, to contain the fires.

Indonesian media have reported that the authorities in the neighbouring province of South Sumatra, also on the island of Sumatra, had issued the same order.

“This is to stress a point to the people, who have been warned many, many times,” said Colonel Refrizal, commander of the forest fire task force in Jambi. “(This is) to show our firmness and seriousness.”

The order would be carried out “responsibly”, said Refrizal, who goes by one name.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Twitter the Jambi task force was working to extinguish a fire covering an area of 10 hectares (25 acres).

Nugroho also said the authorities had found one area in Jambi that had been “intentionally” burned by its owner.

The number of hotspots had increased to 239 by July 30, from 173 hotspots three days earlier, according to the BNPB.

The hotspots were seen mostly on Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo island, with some also on Sumatra and Java island.

The agency had previously warned that the threat of forest fires would escalate, with the dry season expected to peak in September.

Indonesia is regularly hit by forest fires, which can result in choking smoke blowing across to neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia.

Image may contain: one or more people

An Indonesian woman and a child walk on a bamboo bridge as thick yellow haze shrouds Palangkaraya on Oct 22, 2015. AFP photo

The sprawling South-east Asian archipelago suffered some of its worst forest fires in 2015, hitting Sumatra and Kalimantan.

The World Bank, citing government data, said 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres) of land in Indonesia burned between June and October 2015, causing US$16 billion (S$21.7 billion) of estimated economic damage.

Draining and conversion of peatland, often driven by palm oil plantations, contributed to the intensity of haze from the fires, the World Bank said.

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Carbon monoxide concentrations world-wide during the Indonesian burning season, 2015

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London’s Grenfell Fire: Survivor diagnosed with cyanide poisoning — Damage cause by toxic smoke now being assessed

July 13, 2017
The Gomes family
Twelve-year-old Luana Gomes, on the right, was diagnosed with cyanide poisoning

At least one survivor of the Grenfell Tower fire was diagnosed with cyanide poisoning, BBC Newsnight has learned.

Medical discharge papers show 12-year-old Luana Gomes was treated for the effects of the highly toxic gas, which may have been released by burning of insulation or plastics during the fire.

Her sister and mother were also treated for risk of cyanide poisoning.

Mrs Gomes was seven months pregnant at the time of the blaze. Her unborn baby died after the fire.

It has previously been reported that three Grenfell survivors were treated with a cyanide antidote but this is the first confirmation of a cyanide poisoning diagnosis.

Andreia Gomes and her daughters were placed in medically induced comas when they were admitted to Kings College Hospital.

Mrs Gomes was unconscious for four days, Luana for six days and her sister Megan was kept in a coma for a week.

Luana’s discharge record states that she was diagnosed with “smoke inhalation injury” and “cyanide poisoning”.

The hospital discharge papers for Luana Gomes

It also records that she received two doses of hydroxycobalamine “for cyanide poisoning”.

All three women were treated with a cyanide antidote though only Luana was diagnosed as having been poisoned.

The BBC’s environment correspondent Roger Harrabin said cyanide poisoning is relatively common following house fires as it is used in the manufacture of many plastics and is released when those plastics are burned.

“It sounds dramatic because cyanide is known is popular culture as the poisoner’s weapon,” he said. “But cyanides are also produced by some bacteria, fungi and algae.”

Cyanide also occurs naturally in some seeds and fruit stones, eg those of apricots, apples and peaches.

Victims of cyanide are effectively choked by the toxic gas. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, confusion, vomiting and convulsions. At high concentrations it can cause rapid death.

“The effects are really quick… you could die within seconds depending on the level of exposure,” says clinical toxicologist and emergency medicine and critical care consultant Dr Johann Grundlingh.

“When you breathe in oxygen normally, your cells produce energy. Cyanide blocks your capability to produce energy from oxygen.”

Marcio and Andreia Gomes tell the story of how they managed to escape the fire

Mrs Gomes feels deep anger towards whoever was responsible for deciding to place cheaper, less fire retardant cladding on Grenfell Tower.

“You just killed my son,” she said. “If it was in a normal situation, I could have gone out. And he was seven months. He could have survived… But because of the conditions, he passed away.”

Her husband Marcio Gomes told BBC Newsnight he decided to make a run for it with his family at around 04:00 when flames began to engulf his bedroom in their 21st floor flat.

He described how he and his family had to step over a number of bodies as they groped their way, gasping for breath, down the smoke-filled staircase.

“What I didn’t account for was the amount of bodies we had to trip over or step on. We were stepping on people’s arms or legs.”

The blaze at Grenfell Tower

The family was taken together to Kings College Hospital. Only Mr Gomes, who was also treated for smoke inhalation, remained conscious. Getty

He said he realised, even though he was not told explicitly, that their unborn child, who the couple had already named Logan, had died.

“Andreia didn’t know what was going on because she was in an induced coma. My daughters were all in intensive care in induced comas as well.

“I knew something was wrong straight away when they told me in these scenarios they take the mother as a priority. So I broke down, because I knew what they were saying, without saying it. Then later on, they said the baby had passed away.”

It is not known what produced cyanide in the Grenfell fire. It may, however, be related to the foam insulation installed on the exterior of the tower, which is known to produce the gas when burned.

The cladding system added to Grenfell Tower in a recent £10m refurbishment has been the subject of scrutiny and speculation since it emerged that its outer layer was a less fire retardant product containing plastic between layers of aluminium. The aluminium and plastic panels covered a layer of foam insulation installed to improve the building’s energy efficiency.

Andreia Gomes was seven months pregnant at the time of the Grenfell Tower – she lost her baby

“Plastic foam insulation is effectively made from crude oil and so it’s going to combust in more or less the same way as any other petrochemical,” says Richard Hull, Professor of chemistry and fire science at the University of Central Lancashire.

“It’s got a lot of nitrogen in it and therefore when it burns it produces both carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.”

A spokesman for the British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturer’s Association (BRUFMA) – the trade body which represents makers of insulation of the kind used at Grenfell Tower – said no assumptions should be made about what materials created toxic gases in the fire.

“Gases given off by any burning material are toxic. The greatest toxic hazard in almost all fires is due to carbon monoxide,” he said,

“There is no evidence to suggest that PIR (rigid polyisocyanurate) presents any special hazard in terms of toxicity.

“In tests on buildings with PIR panels, carried out by the UK Fire Research Station, no additional hazard from smoke or toxic gases was noted compared to those due to the burning of other buildings.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40568640

Smog chokes coal-addicted Poland

February 5, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Mary SIBIERSKI | A study published last year by the EEA blamed air pollution, caused in large part by the burning of coal, for an estimated 50,000 premature deaths per year in Poland

WARSAW (AFP) – The soupy grey smog shrouding Polish cities this winter is one of the most visible symptoms of the EU member’s addiction to coal, a deadly habit forcing many to stay indoors or don masks before venturing out.Professor Anna Doboszynska, a respected specialist with more than two decades of experience treating lung disease, minces no words about the health risks it poses.

“During periods of smog, more people with respiratory and circulatory illnesses actually die,” she told AFP after examining an asthma patient wheezing heavily amid a spike in pollution in Warsaw.

“Children, pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk from smog, which damages the respiratory tract much in the same way smoking does.

“A child playing outside in the smog is smoking cigarettes, it’s the same thing,” she told AFP.

One Warsaw hospital reported a 50 percent spike in patients over several days of intense smog during a windless cold snap in January.

As anti-smog masks sold out across Poland this week, Warsaw issued them to police officers on duty across the capital.

A study published last year by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) blamed air pollution — caused in large part by the burning of coal — for an estimated 50,000 premature deaths per year in the country of 38 million people.

Seventy percent of Polish households burn low-quality coal or rubbish in old stoves for heat and antiquated coal-fired power plants generate nearly all of Poland’s electricity, giving it some of the dirtiest air in the 28-member EU.

The EEA also blames so-called “low-stack” emissions from old household stoves for countless cases of respiratory illness.

The AirVisuals website regularly lists Warsaw, Katowice or Krakow among the world’s top ten most polluted cities alongside Beijing or New Delhi.

– ‘Government inaction’ –

Karolina, a Warsaw mother of three who did not wish to reveal her surname, says checking mobile phone apps for smog levels and wearing masks have become part of her family’s daily routine.

“My son’s had pneumonia twice within the last 10 months and my daughter was sick all October and November. But, of course, nobody’s blaming smog, even though we live in an area of Warsaw where there’s chronic air pollution,” she told AFP.

“What scares me the most is the total lack of information and government inaction.

“There are days on end when the smog is so bad that school and kindergarten should be closed, but nothing is being done.”

Authorities in Poland only alert the public when air pollution exceeds the EU-wide norm by a whopping 600 percent, according to Piotr Siergiej, an activist with anti-smog NGO “Alarm Smogowy”.

The EU limit for exposure to fine air pollutants known as PM 10 particles is 50 microgrammes per cubic meter per day.

“In Paris, authorities announce smog alerts and take action when pollution exceeds 80 microgrammes per cubic meter per day,” Siergiej told AFP.

“In Poland, the alert level is 300 microgrammes,” he added, slamming the measure as a “health hazard”.

Poland’s environment ministry recently rejected a request by his group for smog alerts — when children, the ill and the elderly are advised to stay indoors — to be issued automatically when pollution levels spike to twice the EU-wide norm.

Instead, the government, led by the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, has vowed to ban low-quality coal and limit sales of the worst-polluting home furnaces over the next three months.

– Renewable energy? –

A report issued last month by the International Energy Agency identified air pollution as “one of the largest environmental health risks” facing Poles.

It also urged Warsaw to rethink its dependence on coal and focus instead on developing cleaner energy sources.

According to the IEA, coal accounted for 81 percent of Poland’s electricity generation in 2015 and the heavily indebted coal-mining sector — one of Europe’s largest — provided more than 100,000 politically sensitive jobs.

The right-wing government of Beata Szydlo, the daughter of a coalminer, has long insisted that plentiful domestic coal is key to Poland’s energy security.

Her administration has also set tough regulations on the installation of wind turbines, in effect blocking competition from the renewables sector, which in 2014 covered about 10 percent of national energy needs.

The IEA concluded that “the future of renewable energy in Poland looks uncertain”, dimming hope for cleaner air anytime soon.

by Mary SIBIERSKI

China takes global lead in clean energy

January 6, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Marlowe Hood | On Thursday, China announced that it would sink at least $361 billion into renewables by 2020, key to the country’s transition away from polluting coal power

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, outdoor and nature China — A farmer walking through heavy smog on the outskirts of Beijing, early January, 2017. Credit Lintao Zhang-Getty Images

PARIS (AFP) – China’s overseas investment in renewable energy projects jumped last year by 60 percent to a record $32 billion (30 billion euros), marking its leadership in the global market for clean energy, a report said Friday.

In 2016, China finalised 11 foreign deals worth more than a billion dollars each, and is expected to pick up the pace this year, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

On Thursday, China announced that it would sink at least $361 billion into renewables by 2020, key to the country’s transition away from polluting coal power.

“Renewable energy will be the pillar for China’s energy structure transition,” said Li Yangzhe, deputy head of the National Energy Administration, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Overseas investments last year ranged from lithium battery makers in Australia and Chile to an electricity distribution deal in Brazil and the building of a solar cell factory in Vietnam.

China now owns five of the six largest solar module manufacturing firms in the world, according to the report.

On the domestic front, the world’s second largest economy had already emerged as a renewables powerhouse, outstripping the United States.

China poured more than $100 billion in domestic renewable energy — wind, solar, hydro — and related sectors in 2015, more than double the US investment, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“The US is already slipping well behind China in the race to secure a larger share of the booming clean energy market,” said IEEFA director Tim Buckley.

“With the incoming (US) administration talking up coal and gas, prospective domestic policy changes don’t bode well,” he said in a statement.

– ‘Hard to compete’ –

US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to restore America’s flagging coal industry, and has appointed several fossil fuel executives and lobbyists to key posts in his administration.

China’s emerging dominance of the clean energy sector also extends to jobs.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that China holds 3.5 million of the 8.1 million renewable energy jobs globally, compared to less than 800,000 in the United States.

China’s National Energy Administration said the nation’s renewables sector would generate at least 13 million jobs by 2020.

Ulf Moslener, a professor at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, agreed that China has emerged as “the world leader on renewable energy,” with clear advantages over rich-nation competitors such as the United States and Germany.

“Standard solar modules are no long rocket science,” he told AFP. “It will be really hard to compete with China on the cost side.”

The same applies to wind energy.

But US and European entrepreneurs “should still have an advantage” when it comes to high tech, he added, pointing to thin-film solar, and cutting-edge engineering services as examples.

In 2016, China boosted its overseas influence by establishing the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.

It is also funnelling billions into the New Development Bank, set up by the BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

All the bank’s initial loans were for renewable energy projects.

Add in its established overseas investment banks, and “China is clearly building the financial capacity to drive global mergers and acquisitions,” the IEEFA report concluded.

In 2015, China overtook the United States as the largest market for electric vehicles, and today two Chinese firms — BYD Auto and battery maker CATL — are challenging US firm Tesla for leadership of the sector.

by Marlowe Hood
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China To Invest at Least $360 Billion in Renewable Energy

January 6, 2017

Reuters

China will plow 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country’s energy agency said on Thursday, as the world’s largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels.

The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation’s energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period.

The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power will contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.

The agency did not disclose more details on where the funds, which equate to about $72 billion each year, would be spent.

Still, the investment reflects Beijing’s continued focus on curbing the use of fossil fuels, which have fostered the country’s economic growth over the past decade, as it ramps up its war on pollution.

Last month, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s economic planner, said in its own five-year plan, that solar power will receive 1 trillion yuan of spending, as the country seeks to boost capacity by five times. That’s equivalent to about 1,000 major solar power plants, according to experts’ estimates.

The spending comes as the cost of building large-scale solar plants has dropped by as much as 40 percent since 2010. China became the world’s top solar generator last year.

“The government may exceed these targets because there are more investment opportunities in the sector as costs go down,” said Steven Han, renewable analyst with securities firm Shenyin Wanguo.

Some 700 billion yuan will go towards wind farms, 500 billion to hydro power with tidal and geothermal getting the rest, the NDRC said.

The NEA’s job creation forecast differs from the NDRC’s in December that said it expected an additional 3 million jobs, bringing the total in the sector to 13 million by 2020.

Concerns about the social and economic costs of China’s air pollution have increased as the northern parts of the country, including the capital Beijing, have battled a weeks-long bout of hazardous smog.

Illustrating the enormity of the challenge, the NEA repeated on Thursday that renewables will still only account for just 15 percent of overall energy consumption by 2020, equivalent to 580 million tonnes of coal.

More than half of the nation’s installed power capacity will still be fueled by coal over the same period.

(Reporting by Meng Meng and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Michael Perry and Christian Schmollinger)

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China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020

China intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, the government’s energy agency said on Thursday.

The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack as Donald J. Trump, a climate-change doubter, prepares to assume the presidency.

The agency said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and reduce the amount of soot that in recent days has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities in a noxious cloud of smog.

China surpassed the United States a decade ago as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and now discharges about twice as much. For years, its oil and coal industries prospered under powerful political patrons and the growth-above-anything mantra of the ruling Communist Party.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/world/asia/china-renewable-energy-investment.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Chinese province of Hebei said it will learn lessons from the smog — China’s nearly three-year war on pollution has meant speedy reduction of China’s air pollution problem

December 26, 2016

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The heavily polluted northern Chinese province of Hebei said it will learn lessons from the smog that engulfed the region last week and step up its clean-up efforts, while the country’s Supreme Court vowed to crack down harder on polluters.

Hebei, which surrounds Beijing and was home to seven of China’s 10 smoggiest cities last year, has been on the front line of China’s nearly three-year war on pollution, but experts say enforcement remains lax amid concerns about the impact that smog controls have on economic growth and jobs.

In the Hebei capital of Shijiazhuang, average concentrations of small breathable particles known as PM2.5 were higher than 500 micrograms per cubic metre for three consecutive days last week – 50 times higher than World Health Organisation recommendations.

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

 China –Buildings in construction are covered in fog in Wangdu, Hebei province, China on Dec 22, 2016 .PHOTO by REUTERS

In the province’s first official response, governor Zhang Qingwei said Hebei would work to improve “levels of scientific precision” when it came to controlling pollution.

In comments published on Monday (Dec 26), he said better “top-level planning” was required as Hebei sought to adjust its industrial and energy structures.

Hebei would also draw up more detailed plans to deal with issues like the direct combustion of coal, a major source of smog, the provincial government said on its official website (http://www.hebei.gov.cn).

The province aimed to cut PM2.5 concentrations to an average of around 67 micrograms per cubic meter this year, down from 77 micrograms in 2015, but officials have warned that the latest outbreak could make China’s pollution targets difficult to reach.

According to a separate notice, officials said on Sunday that despite the recent smog, caused in part by “the most unfavourable weather conditions since 1998”, Hebei was still on course to meet its goals, with emissions in Shijiazhuang set to drop around 12 per cent this year.

Hebei has declared 2017 to be the “year of transformation and upgrading”, it said on Saturday.

Eight cities in Hebei launched “red alerts” last week in response to the smog, which reached record levels at some monitoring stations in the province, but it quickly came under fire from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, with a number of its steel firms singled out for failing to suspend operations.

Courts will widen the range of offences that constitute”environmental crimes” in order to make it easier to take legal action against polluters, a senior judiciary official said at a press briefing on Monday, a move that could help Hebei crack down on persistent offenders.

But Yan Maokun, head of the research office at the Supreme People’s Court, told reporters that it had struggled to gather the evidence required to prosecute, according to a transcript of the briefing published on China’s official court website (http://www.chinacourt.org).

“Air pollution is different from water pollution or soil pollution, and it is extremely difficult to get evidence for air pollution crimes because after the pollution is emitted it undergoes a large degree of dispersal, and is very quickly diluted,” Yan said.

Prosecutors would focus on specific offences such as tampering with sensor equipment or providing false emissions data, and firms found guilty would be punished regardless of the amount of pollution involved, he said.

China: Oppressive smoke, smog and haze provoking public anger about the slow response to the threat to children’s health

December 21, 2016
© AFP | A group of people wearing masks visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing on December 21, 2016

SHIJIAZHUANG (CHINA) (AFP) – China’s smoggiest city closed schools Wednesday, as the country suffered through its sixth day under an oppressive haze provoking public anger about the slow response to the threat to children’s health.

Since Friday, a choking miasma has covered a large swathe of northeastern China, leaving more than 460 million gasping for breath.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, baby and child

Children get medical care, December 19, 2016

Shijiazhuang, the capital of northern Hebei province, was one of more than 20 cities that went on red alert Friday evening, triggering an emergency action plan to reduce pollution by closing polluting factories and taking cars off the road, among other measures.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting and child

Chinese residents are wearing face masks on the streets again  in Beijing.

But nowhere has been hit as hard as the city of Shijiazhuang, which has seen a huge spike in pollution.

The city’s education department waited until Tuesday evening to announce it was closing elementary schools and kindergartens, following similar moves in neighbouring Beijing and Tianjin.

The announcement said middle and high schools could close on a voluntary basis.

Air Pollution in Hangzhou

The statement, which appeared on the education department’s official social media account provoked anger.

“Are middle school students’ bodies’ air purifiers?” one incredulous commenter asked, adding “Are you going to wait for us all to become sick before you step up to fix this?”

A picture from neighbouring Henan province showing more than 400 students sitting an exam on a football pitch after their school was forced to close was widely circulated on social media, further fuelling discontent.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water

Shanghai in winter

Shijiazhuang has seen 10 bouts of serious air pollution so far this winter, according to the China Daily newspaper, putting it at the top of the environmental ministry’s list of cities with the worst air quality.

Over the last 48 hours, levels of PM 10 in the city have been literally off the charts, with readings of the larger particle, a major source of haze, repeatedly maxing out at 999.

Levels of the smaller PM 2.5, tiny enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream and thought to be a major contributor to respiratory and cardiovascular disease, reached as high as 733, more than 29 times the World Health Organization’s daily recommended maximum exposure of 25.

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 http://www.morehangzhou.com/cover-story/clearing-the-air:-the-skinny-on-air-pollution-in-hangzhou.html

India court demands Government anti-smog plan in two days amid “public health emergency”

November 8, 2016

AFP

© AFP | Delhi has been shrouded in a toxic soup in recent days as pollution levels spiked after the Diwali festival

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India’s top court on Tuesday gave the federal government two days to chalk out a plan to tackle alarming levels of smog in Delhi, the world’s most polluted capital.

An environmental body filed a petition with the Supreme Court earlier this week demanding a review of the government’s previous lacklustre attempts to control the pollution levels, describing it as a “public health emergency”.

Delhi has been shrouded in a toxic soup in recent days as pollution levels spiked after the Diwali festival which is marked by setting off ear-splitting — and highly polluting — fireworks.

The air quality generally worsens with the onset of winter, as farmers in neighbouring states burn crop stubble after the harvest and cooler temperatures trap pollutants in a smoggy haze over the city.

The government on Tuesday asked the court for two days to come up with a plan, which was granted.

“Give me two days. We will have a meeting with the environment secretary and come up with a comprehensive response to the problem of Delhi pollution,” India’s solicitor general, Ranjit Kumar, told the court.

On Tuesday morning, the US embassy showed the concentration of PM2.5 — the fine particles linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease — at a “hazardous” level of 372, lower than Monday’s off-the-charts reading of 778.

Levels between 301 and 500 are classified as “hazardous”, meaning everyone faces a risk of respiratory effects and should stay indoors, while levels above 500 are beyond the official index.

In a separate hearing in India’s environment court on Tuesday, Judge Swantanter Kumar slammed authorities of Delhi and four of its neighbouring states for not taking action sooner to control alarming levels of pollution.

“What did you do when all this smog was going on and the particulate matter reached beyond prescribed limits?” Kumar said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Delhi authorities have so far responded to the smog by including a ban on setting off fire crackers — except at religious events — and driving restrictions earlier this year.

The Delhi government on Monday also shut schools for three days, banned all construction work for five days and temporarily closed a coal-fired power plant.

Authorities are also considering cloud-seeding to produce rain, a technique Beijing used to clear the air before the 2008 Olympic Games.

Sickening air pollution prompts Indian cities to join New Delhi in Air Pollution Emergency

November 7, 2016

LUCKNOW, India — The sickening air pollution that led the Indian capital to shut schools and construction sites this week has prompted similar measures in neighboring cities.

Officials in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh say they expect the acrid smog to blanket the state within days.

For more than a week, New Delhi’s skies have been filled with a thick haze that has made people’s eyes sting and their throats sore. Air pollution experts blame myriad pollution sources, from diesel-burning cars and seasonal crop burning to garbage fires and stoves fueled with kerosene and cow dung. Winter weather patterns also mean there is less wind to circulate the air.

In the Uttar Pradesh district of Ghaziabad, east of New Delhi, schools are closed Monday and Tuesday along with those in the capital.

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