Experts Call for Reduction of PM2.5 Pollutants in Beijing
Created: 2012-03-26 16:55 EST
The pressure is on for Beijing officials to do something about air pollution in China’s capital. Experts are calling for action to reduce the amount of PM2.5 particulate—that is, super-small pollutants that measure 2.5 microns or less—in the air.
These particles are considered the most harmful to people when inhaled, because they penetrate deep into the lung tissue and are linked to cancer and other life-threatening conditions.
Beijing only recently began to make PM2.5 readings public, after an intense campaign that highlighted regular PM2.5 readings posted by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Scientists looking at the problem say that it will be challenging to address because of the multiple factors that contribute to the city’s air pollution.
[Wang Yuesi, Research Fellow, Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences]:
"About one third of the air pollutants in Beijing is contributed by local industries, another one third is from the waste matter which may be turned into gas with sources unknown, and the rest is from neighboring areas. So Beijing alone cannot solve the problem completely. It can solve part of the problem, but not all of it."
People studying the problem concede that the air pollution problem in Beijing is part of a larger pollution problem across the country. China’s push for rapid industrialization came with weak environmental protections—and the laws that are meant to protect the environment are under-enforced.
Yet policy makers are under pressure from everyday Chinese to do something—if only because they are fed up with needing to wear protective masks like this one every time they want to take a stroll. And many experts warn that even the ubiquitous surgical masks that Beijing residents have come to wear do little—if anything—to protect their lugs from the super small PM2.5 pollutants.