Concentrations of lung-damaging ozone last month hit a record high in China, rising 11 percent from the same month last year, Greenpeace said yesterday, citing official data.
Despite China’s four-year battle against air pollution, ozone has become “an emerging health threat,” Greenpeace said.
Average levels in the capital, Beijing, stood at 120 micrograms per cubic meter last month, about double the rates in ozone hotspots such as California and Mexico City.
The Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment on Tuesday said that it expected ozone pollution to be particularly high in the region surrounding Beijing over the next 10 days.
Ground-level ozone, known as “sunburn for the lungs,” is caused by the interaction of sunlight with nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).
It can lead to shortness of breath, coughing and inflamed airways, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Children are at the greatest risk and prolonged exposure might cause asthma and abnormal lung development.
“Likely reasons for surging ozone levels include stubbornly high nitrogen dioxide emissions from heavy industry and transport, and increasing VOC emissions from a wide range of industries from petroleum refining, plastics manufacturing and other chemical industries, construction, and from cars and trucks,” Greenpeace said.
Citing figures from the Global Burden of Disease database, Greenpeace said ozone exposure was responsible for about 70,000 premature deaths in China in 2016.
A study published in April by Peking University said ozone concentrations rose 40 percent or more in 10 northern Chinese cities from 2014 to last year, despite tough new measures to clean up industry and traffic.
China’s efforts to cut floating particulate matter had actually increased the strength of sunlight, creating more ozone, the study said.
Experts had urged China to target ozone pollution in its latest three-year anti-smog plan released last month, but no special measures were included.
Chinese Deputy Minister of Ecology and Environment Zhao Yingmin (趙英民) told a news briefing that while average ozone concentrations rose 8 percent last year, hazardous floating particles known as PM2.5 — fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers or smaller — remained the country’s priority.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference