Kids Get ‘Smog Day’ As Pollution Shuts Down Chinese City

Choking pollution measured at 40 times what the WHO says is safe

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Kyodo News / AP

A woman wearing a mask walk through a street covered by dense smog in Harbin, northern China, Oct. 21, 2013.

Winter is coming, that’s for sure. The northeastern city of Harbin today ushered in the season with smog so thick that visibility was reportedly limited to 10 meters in places. Classes were canceled, roads closed, and planes grounded.

State media said the PM 2.5 reading (which measures the level of harmful particulate matter in the air) “exceeded” 500. A Reuters report put the figure at 1000, or 40 times higher than what the World Health Organization deems safe. Photographs from the city show air so murky it would be easy to mistake Monday morning for deep, dark night.

The shutdown in Harbin is sure to worry residents of northern China as the region heads into what promises to be another long, dirty winter. China’s northeast is plagued year-round by air pollution, the result of factory emissions and massive growth in the number of vehicles on the road. Things get worse, however, when the heaters crank up, increasing the amount of coal that gets burned. Harbin’s current smog comes the day after the city turned on its heaters.

MORE: The 10 Most Polluted Cities in the World

It’s not the first time bad air has brought a Chinese city to a halt. Last year, Beijing was gripped by a weeks-long airpocalypse that sent families scrambling for cover and bolstered sales of face masks and air-purifiers. By choking the nation’s capital in its embrace, that haze helped put pollution on the national agenda, with officials finally recognizing, and promising to address, the problem.

But there’s no easy fix. In September, Beijing unveiled a new blueprint for improving the air by 2017. China will need to spend nearly 5 trillion yuan, or $817 billion to fight pollution, said a spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection, with $163 billion of that spent in the capital alone. Last week, as the air turned cold and the pollution spiked, officials announced a set of color-coded emergency measures for bad pollution days. A red alert for toxic air? Sure, that could work. If you can see it through the smog.

MORE: Spring Sandstorms Add to China’s Bad Air Misery

Wearing face masks to combat air pollution has become so common in Chinese cities, one designer is working to make the utilitarian accessory into a fashion statement:

63 comments
laken046
laken046

thats nasty i feel sorry for u guys


Mathias
Mathias

China has a responsibility to do a LOT more than it's doing. However, there should be a measure of responsibility from huge manufacturing companies like Samsung, with most of its factories in China. Placing sole responsibility on China for all the pollution is akin to your entire neighborhood going to your house to take a crap and then blaming you for not effectively dealing with the stench. China needs to clean up its act, but we shouldn't let other nations' manufacturers completely off the hook either.

lynhuang
lynhuang

get the money back from the US government who owes Chinese, use these money to improve the air condition.......

eliasurname
eliasurname

can you propose " heater-off day"??? In this way government, report can understand if the real problem is due to heaters???

kerriekerns28
kerriekerns28

I refuse to believe that this smog was man made... and I refuse to believe that human activity is having an effect on our environment...

#RepublicanPartyDenialists #TeaParty #FlatEarthSociety

greijing
greijing

It's not global warming that is causing this. It's the chinese and their IDGAF as long as the money is flowing in attitude. Oh, and it's also us dumbass Americans keep on buying cheap craps from china.

joblack
joblack

Not smog. Dyed air. These folks got tired of not seeing their air. Some kind of new neurosis. Personally prefer chartreuse to the white (off brand).

badcompany107
badcompany107

Yet another example of the exemplary benefits of socialism... no respect for private property...

lemonlemon
lemonlemon

China realizing the benefits of clean coal technology I see.

cpc65
cpc65

Look on the bright side. With all that smog you can't see all the other pollution. 

garygnj
garygnj

What China needs is their own version of Rush Limbaugh to deny that man had anything to do with this "natural smog". 

paullubbock
paullubbock

This is good and bad.  It is good in that extreme and obvious damage is occurring without mistaking the source and the government denying it or blaming something else.  They will be forced to deal with it.  It is bad in that the Chinese people will suffer and potentially China's neighbors if not a large part of the world.

JohnMann
JohnMann

Dear China,

You have a responsibility to your people and to the rest of the world to clean up your pollution mechnisms. Since you seem to be swimming in money, install scrubbers asap plz.

highdef2012
highdef2012

.. yeah, and you politically correct dumbasses on tv and in colleges tell me to stop global warming in America???  HUH?  clean up CHINA FIRST, then get back to me.  

bugsta
bugsta

Rest assured, every time we spend a crap load of money for “clean energy”, all the stuff we buy with tax dollars comes from China, where they pollute the air far worse making the products then we save using them. But it makes you feel better and makes some big profits for “green energy” companies and their investors so, so go for it!

barneydidit
barneydidit

Well it's just a dang good thing that China doesn't have a Liberal, job killing, EPA to interfere with their right to fill the air with cheap, plentiful coal smoke.  Just think how miserable these people would be if they didn't have jobs...AND were gasping for breath. 

derekF
derekF

soon or later, they are going to shut down the whole world.

paradisewebtx
paradisewebtx

Wow, this is crazy. I worry that somehow this could come to the US (again, like the 60s/70s)

Ruffian
Ruffian

This is what happens when you don't have an Environmental Protection Agency.  Take note, teabaggers.

KevinMiller
KevinMiller

In China, this is not pollution, but population control. 

ManuellLabor
ManuellLabor

Drive from Shenzen to Guanzou and count the number of coal fire plants. Hundreds over a 6 hour journey

They are placed close to where industrial users are located because the inter tie electrical grid for China is antiquated.

And the people that live there are clustered around their places of work making air and water pollution an emergency issue to residents. A lot of their home heating comes from small charcoal heaters, just like England - London in the 50's. Same fog/smog that London had until they banned coal fireplaces.

Until they switch to natural gas heating, this problem will only get worse for China and may doom their industrial growth.

AndrewUlrich
AndrewUlrich

China could have been the leader in clean air and vehicles, but instead they've chosen the absolute worst way to go with the population they have. It's sad really.

CraigDyer
CraigDyer

I agree with most of what is being said. The US did take years to realize we needed to clean up and then reduce pollution of all kinds. The Chinese should also clean and prevent pollution in their country when new structures are build, not retroactively. Everyone now knows the short and long term effects, plus air and water pollution can leave a countries borders. Case in point, National Geographic had a special on several months ago about how the jelly fish in the ocean between China and Japan have become huge in size and number. It is because the fertilizer runoff from Chinese soil goes into rivers in China and then into the sea and caused the jellyfish to change. This has reduced the population of other fish to be wiped out in great numbers. So now another country, (Japan), which has nothing to do with the pollution created in China, is forced to suffer. We are all neighbors in this world now.

RonaldMcloughlin
RonaldMcloughlin

It's scary to see China this way esp since I just saw last night's PBS doc on working in China.  We'ev never had it so good, Even the 12-year war duznt really touch us unless U have a loved one over there.

FreeRadicals
FreeRadicals

Still busy with their Pandas, they lose sight (literally) that they're killing their environment and everyone else.

bandofgamers2014
bandofgamers2014

Forcing China?  World pressure?  Are you kidding me?  Look what that did here; the US isn't paying any attention to the Kyoto Accord; why would China hobble itself in doing so?  No one is going to force China to do anything; least of all a liberal group that has no clout or standing. 

China's in the business of getting rich.  It's just like the US in the later 19th century and early 20th; no one gave a damn about that stuff until you got rich and looked at the quality of your life.  Then, you clean up.

shodori
shodori

Hmmm wheres this story on Foxnews?

Sacto1924
Sacto1924

The problem with China is that they have TOO many coal-fired power plants that generate a huge amount of very unhealthy exhaust, especially most of them run with essentially no air pollution controls. Indeed, why isn't the environmental movement worldwide putting pressure on China and India to take their pollution problems seriously? The original 1997 Kyoto Accord would probably have gotten a lot more acceptance if that had forced China and India to clean up their pollution problems from 1997 on.

China right now should immediately force all coal-fired power plants to install the same type of air pollution controls required by the EPA for coal-fired power plants here in the USA. I'll almost bet the air will be vastly cleaner once these pollution controls are in place.

GlendaHammer
GlendaHammer

One of the first things GW Bush did as President, was do away with the clean air laws that were signed by President Clinton.  Bush did the same thing in the US that he did in Texas, he told Big Business, if you want to clean up the air, do so, if you don't want to, then don't.  No fines, no problem.  That's why Big Business and their Lobbyists, spent so much money doing everything they could, to steal the election for Bush, in 2000.  He was their boy, when it came to dirtying up the air, and water.  He was also their boy, when it came to sending jobs to China, and India, for the cheap labor. 

This is what China gets for allowing companies like Walmart, to make their cheap products there. 

bandofgamers2014
bandofgamers2014

The US offloaded all this industrial might to China because most companies here did NOT want to clean up their act; it was way cheaper to go to China, disregrd even basic environmental issues, and pay people sub standard wages.  We couldn't move the inductrial capacity fast enough! 

Its all about money.  If China forces the companies to clean up they will move again; places like Vietnam, Africa etc; wherever the governments value jobs over the well being of their populace.  Its a tough choice; many in the US would love to roll back clean air standards; but, this is what you get if you do.

needguncontrol
needguncontrol

Proof that humans have nothing to do with global pollution, global warming.

cwhatsnew
cwhatsnew

There was zero "smog" incidence in China 30 years ago. It's just lack of planning and the environment was never prepared to adopt such an extraordinary level of economic expansion. If they had the will to push for the sudden jump in getting more food, better housing and transportation, they should have at least the same will to breath! Fix it back to 30 years ago!!!

Compassghost
Compassghost

Could the United States potentially trade environmentally-friendly technology, cleaner cars, or research into alternative or cleaner energy to cover its debts with China? 

 The US would lower its debt, and China would be able to reduce its smog and air pollution issues. Both countries benefit.

jOhan
jOhan

We've been harping about the environment for decades. The problem is you cannot rely on private industry to clean itself up. This is a public health issue. It must be managed by the government.

skyguynick
skyguynick

@highdef2012 

So everyone passes the buck around and nothing gets done...

Yes, the house is burning down but I DEMAND that you put out the fire on your side of the room before I lift a finger to put out the flames I see on my side.

miakotamatsue
miakotamatsue

@highdef2012 

Why is it politically correct to tell you to stop global warming?  I don't understand the connection.

SuperMario27
SuperMario27

I agree!! All politicians around the world must be able to build a city of 1,000,000 and maintain or grow its population in SimCity without any cheat codes before running for office......

highdef2012
highdef2012

@Ruffian  ... love to see you too, Einstein.  Hold still, I'm aiming.   move on, moron

highdef2012
highdef2012

@KevinMiller  .. not true.. when the air is this bad, they just go indoors and breed even more.

Sacto1924
Sacto1924

@ManuellLabor You are completely correct. Air pollution from coal-fired power plants with no pollution controls has already become a serious health hazard in China--in fact, the air in many parts of China is so bad that it makes the Stage 2 smog alerts common in the Los Angeles Basin from the 1960's to 1980's seem like minor events in comparison. And unfortunately, it has also made the air in South Korea and Japan much more unhealthy than it should be.

Indeed, when the 1997 Kyoto Protocol was signed, they should have mandated back then that China and India take steps on their own to start cleaning up their VERY serious air and water pollution problems. The fact the accord didn't address that was why the agreement was denounced in many parts of the world.

FreeRadicals
FreeRadicals

@GlendaHammer This would be the same 'exemplary' GW that set fire to leaves on his Texas ranch.  A Leader would have made a pile of mulch, never GW. 

ginamarie
ginamarie

@bandofgamers2014 When my family complained about all the US jobs going overseas, I always said to them "if you continue to buy the products that were produced overseas, you will continue to see the jobs go overseas".  They always elected to buy the cheaper product vs. the "made in the USA product".  You can't have it both ways.  Now it is hard to even find some products made in the USA (with their manufacture subject to environmental standards) which is their new excuse for continuing to buy the cheaper stuff.  If you buy the stuff made in China, you are part of the problem.

typifire
typifire

@jOhan The Chinese government controls Chinese industry.  So, now what?

miakotamatsue
miakotamatsue

@highdef2012 @Ruffian 

Dude, why the need to be violent?  Seriously, now I get it.  Guns don't kill people.  It's mental retards like you that we need to send to institutions.