Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Sharp Surge in Beijing Air Toxins Is Tied to Emissions

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Sharp Surge in Beijing Air Toxins Is Tied to Emissions

Article excerpt

Levels of two major air toxins were reported by the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau to have increased nearly 30 percent in the Chinese capital.

CORRECTION APPENDED

In the first three months of this year, two major air pollutants in the Chinese capital increased almost 30 percent from a year earlier, according to a report on Wednesday by a Chinese news organization.

Levels of the pollutants -- nitrous dioxide and particulate matter that is 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter, called PM-10 -- appeared to have had a particularly sharp surge in January, when they increased 47 percent from a year earlier, according to the report, by The Economic Observer, a respected Chinese newspaper. The report cited as its source Chen Tian, head of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.

A third pollutant, sulfur dioxide, decreased slightly over the same three-month period.

Mr. Chen said the main reason for the huge increase in two pollutants was high levels of emissions. Citing Mr. Chen, the report said, "The emissions created by those living and producing in the city far exceed what the environment can take."

The report said the environmental bureau had concluded that the increases in the two pollutants had been also partly due to topography and weather conditions. Beijing recently had its highest levels of relative humidity in a decade, and surface wind speeds were the lowest in 10 years, which together resulted in a lower- temperature inversion layer that trapped pollutants, the report said.

Cities in northern China have been grappling this winter with record air pollution, which have stirred fear and anger among many Chinese. In January, the Beijing municipal government recorded shocking concentrations of particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, called PM 2.5. The highest concentrations, nearly 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter, were on a par with severely polluted days in industrial London in the mid- 20th century. …

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