China’s Eastern Coast Blanketed in Toxic Haze

Pollution spreads to southeast of country that normally remains largely unaffected

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A woman stands at The Bund on Dec. 5, 2013 in Shanghai, China

The airpocalypse continues.  The dense, polluted air that has become a fixture in China’s northeast has this week descended further south, shrouding a vast section of eastern China in a toxic haze. In Shanghai,  the city’s famous skyline was barely visible behind the ashen blanket. In nearby Nanjing, the government ordered school closures in order to keep children indoors.  A bit further up the coast, in parts of Shandong province, pollution levels Thursday were literally off the chart.

(PHOTOSatellite Photos Show the Appalling Extent of China’s Air Pollution)

China is no stranger to extreme air pollution, but this type of city-shuttering smog is more common in northeastern China, where coal consumption peaks during the cold winter months, darkening skies. Since the 1950s the government has provided free heating to those living north of the Huai river. A recent study found that air pollution from coal combustion likely cuts an average of 5.5 years from the lives of northerners compared to those in the south.

Last winter, Beijing spend several cold, dark weeks under a filthy haze, sending sales of air purifiers soaring. This year’s pollution season hit China’s northeast first, with bad air essentially shutting down the city of Harbin in late October. The air was so thick that visibility was reduced to 10 meters in some places. Schools were closed and planes grounded as traffic snarled to a halt.

After years of denying or downplaying the problem the government has finally vowed action-. In September, Beijing unveiled a new blueprint that promises 5 trillion yuan, or $817 billion, to improve air quality by 2017. They also introduced a color-coded emergency system that details certain measures (curbs on cars, for instance) according to the level of pollution.

Judging by the look of eastern China this week, those measures, while welcome, are far from enough.

MOREIn China’s Polluted Cities, the Smog May Be Here to Stay


The pollution is devastating for anyone living there. I cannot imagine anyone NOT having their health affected.

We recently returned from a CLEAN technology EXPO in Nanjing. It seems the Chinese Government are keen to encourage the uptake of new technology. Our group, traveling with AUSTRADE, were representing “The Australian Clean Technology Competition” winners. We all had excellent technologies that would make a significant difference to China’s Pollution problems.

Our technology specifically targets Monitoring and Controlling Dust emissions from Coal Plants and Manufacturing processes. If all these Air Polluting industries adopted our technology, we could monitor remotely and report that they are in fact using their dust collection equipment, that they are using it efficiently and also advise them when filters need changing.With central remote control, it would be easy to detect the offenders causing this pollution.

There are easy ways to improve the air quality. It is such a big issue, possibly the implementation of new technology will have to come from the top down. It may be too difficult to for the humble manufacturer to invest in the required technologies.

As long as Western and Japanese companies continue to contract and collaborate with Chinese sweatshops to produce their wares in violation of Chinese labor and pollution laws, they contribute to Chinese pollution.


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If you are walking a dog in Shanghai, you'll see no dog, you can just feel a dog rope in your hand.