Xinhua recently reported that heavy smog covered the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region starting on December 16. The situation worsened on the 19th. Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei Province, suffered a record high pollution level of over 1000 for both PM2.5 and PM10 indexes. Some monitoring stations even recorded 1015 for PM2.5 and 1132 for PM10. Ten cities in Hebei Province declared Code Red emergency status. Hebei is the province that surrounds Beijing. Its capital city Shijiazhuang is only 163 miles away from Beijing.
PM2.5 particles are air pollutants with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, small enough to invade even the smallest airways. These particles generally come from activities that burn fossil fuels, such as traffic, smelting, and metal processing. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers a PM2.5 number below 25 to be safe. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing recorded a PM2.5 of 522 on December 4, 2011. Not long after that, China started monitoring the level of PM2.5. New York’s PM2.5 peak level was 68 on October 5, 2013. <Editor’s note: DW reported that, according to a scientific paper published by the independent research group Berkeley Earth, bad air contributes to 1.6 million deaths a year or roughly 17 percent of all deaths in China; a study reported in the New York Times indicated that, in 2013, 916,000 deaths were related to PM2.5 exposure.>
Source: Xinhua, December 19, 2016
DW, August 17, 2015
New York Times, August 17, 2016