Hu­mor­pro­vides­lightre­lief fromheavys­mog

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA -

Beijing has been suf­fer­ing this year’s most se­vere smog since Fri­day, with pol­lu­tion read­ings off the charts that have forced schools to close and caused traf­fic chaos.

How­ever, with a west­erly wind due to reach the cap­i­tal at mid­night on Tues­day, good air qual­ity was be­ing forecast for Wed­nes­day, said Zhang Dawei, di­rec­tor of the Beijing Mu­nic­i­pal En­vi­ron­men­tal Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­ter.

He said the air qual­ity is ex­pected to re­main good from Wed­nes­day to Fri­day.

The cap­i­tal’s or­ange pol­lu­tion alert was due to be lifted from mid­night on Tues­day.

Beijing had is­sued its first or­ange pol­lu­tion alert of the year on Sun­day, re­strict­ing pro­duc­tion at­morethan 2,100 com­pa­niesand­sus­pend­ing all work on con­struc­tion sites that could gen­er­ate dust.

Thick, chok­ing smog has en­veloped the cap­i­tal for five days, with the air qual­ity in­dex in many mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions soaring to 500, the high­est pos­si­ble read­ing. The mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment en­cour­ages peo­ple to stay in­doors when the read­ing is higher than 300.

The con­cen­tra­tion of PM2.5 — par­tic­u­late mat­ter with a di­am­e­ter less than 2.5 mi­crons that poses health risks — was 689 at 5 pm on Tues­day in some southern Beijing mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions, down from the peak read­ing of 945 onMon­day.

Stu­dents at some kinder­gartens, and pri­mary and mid­dle schools had their classes can­celed so they could stay in­doors.

The cap­i­tal has also seen more road ac­ci­dents due to the poor vis­i­bil­ity, and traf­fic con­ges­tion was bad around the city through most ofMon­day. Many ex­press­ways link­ing Beijing and neigh­bor­ing cities in He­bei prov­ince were closed for hours.

Some of the Chi­nese cap­i­tal’s 22.5 mil­lion res­i­dents have turned to hu­mor to cope with per­sis­tent toxic air that once again soared above haz­ardous lev­els on Tues­day.

Ajoke cir­cu­lat­ing among Chi­nese jour­nal­ists told of a re­porter ap­proach­ing an old­woman on the street to ask about the im­pact of the smog. “The im­pact is huge,” the­woman replies. “First of all, I’m your un­cle.”

The mu­nic­i­pal en­vi­ron­men­tal watch­dog sent in­spec­tion teams to su­per­vise mea­sures to re­strict emis­sions on Tues­day. Of 545 com­pa­nies they in­spected, 12 had vi­o­lated or­ange alert re­stric­tions, the cap­i­tal’s en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau said.

Someusers of so­cial me­dia traced the shapes of fa­mous Beijing land­marks on pho­to­graphs in which the build­ingswere nearly ob­scured by the smog and posted them on­line.

One said liv­ing in Beijing was like­work­ing on the cre­wof a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse­movie.

“As a friend fin­ished eat­ing lunch, he slapped on his face mask and said he had to re­turn to the set. They­were film­ing Res­i­dent Evil in the af­ter­noon,” one

For ex­am­ple, a Dongfeng Nis­san fac­tory failed to sus­pend work on Tues­day. And a con­struc­tion site at the China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Science and Law left piles of build­ing ma­te­ri­als un­cov­ered which could release dust into the air. mi­cro-blog­ger joked, in­vok­ing the hor­ror film.

An­other on­line joke said aBei­jing ra­dio broad­caster re­ceived a call froma mem­ber of the au­di­ence whowas­wor­ried about his traf­fic vi­o­la­tions. “I can­not see the red light un­til it’s too late,” he cried, say­ing he had run through eight lights.

“Don’tworry,” the broad­caster said. “The heavy smog has also pro­tected you fromthe traf­fic cam­eras.”

All com­pa­nies and con­struc­tion sites vi­o­lat­ing the reg­u­la­tions would be se­verely pun­ished, the bureau said.

The smog cov­er­ing a vast area across north­ern China has been caused by un­fa­vor­able weather, with no wind and high hu­mid­ity, and an in­creased consumption of coal in the heat­ing sea­son, the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion said.

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