Everybody knows the pollution in Beijing and in many other Chinese cities is bad. However, most of people are not aware of how bad the situation is and if it could get better sometime soon.
10 more years to wait before getting a clean air in Beijing
The World Health Organization estimates that a limit of maximum 25 micrograms of PM 2.5 (particles below 2.5 micrometers) per cubic meter of air to insure a healthy environment. Let’s have a look at historical and future target pollution levels recently published by the Chinese government in Beijing (average annual concentration of PM2.5):
The average annual concentration of PM 2.5:
- 2013 : 89.5 micrograms per cubic meter
- 2014 : 85.9 micrograms per cubic meter
- 2015 : 83.2 micrograms per cubic meter
- Objectives for 2017 : 73 micrograms per cubic meter.
- Objectives for 2020 : 64 micrograms per cubic meter
- Objectives for 2030 : 25 micrograms per cubic meter
These latter objectives were announced by Chinese government as a new target.
These new targets also include Beijing’s closest cities as Tianjin, and the province of Hebei, which is even more polluted than Beijing. Hebei is actually one of the world’s main steel producer, burning coal to melt it.
As a result, in 2013 Hebei and Tianjin area combined together had an average PM2.5 concentration of 106 micrograms per cubic meter, while Beijjng’s average concentration was at 89.5. With that in mind, it seems difficult for these areas to succeed in achieving government’s targets. However, they are so close that their activity impacts without any doubt the quality of the air in Beijing. That is why their success is of capital importance for the success of Beijing.
According to the World Health Organization “small particles produce health impacts at even very low concentrations” and “no threshold under which no damage on health would be observed has been identified up to now. Therefore, the WHO 2005 guideline limits aimed at achieving the lowest concentrations of PM possible”.
Let’s hope that new government policies will succeed in changing the industry, bringing a cleaner and fresher air over China, to finally become an example for other developing nations. Meanwhile, don’t hesitate to wear a mask!
If you have to stay home because of pollution, here are some interesting articles to read: