Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Choking smog grips Beijing region

China's capital region was swathed Monday in a cloud of choking smog, prompting a rise in hospital visits, sales of indoor air purifiers and reports of rare industry shutdowns.

China's Ministry of Environmental Protection on Sunday dispatched inspection teams to fine and shut down polluting industries in the region.

But the shutdowns did little to end a four-day bout of heavy particulate smog. Nor are they likely to ameliorate skepticism about China's commitment to environmental protection.

Alex Wang, who teaches law at the University of California at Los Angeles, said China has extensive environmental laws. "The problem is not a lack of knowledge about pollution sources," said Wang, who previously headed the Beijing office of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Rather, the problem is that environmental regulators lack sufficient authority to deter polluters."

The biggest sources of Beijing's pollution are thought to be industries, smelters and utilities outside the city powered by coal.

On Beijing's worst days, the smell of coal soot hangs heavy in the air. At 6 p.m. Monday, the air monitor at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported that levels of so-called PM 2.5 contaminants — fine particles produced by coal burning that pose the worst risk to human health — had topped 400 micrograms per cubic meter. That's about 16 times higher than what the World Health Organization deems safe.

On the street Monday, pedestrians outfitted in masks were far more visible than the week before, although a large number -—mainly men — wore no protection and could be seen enjoying the outdoors by smoking.

The view Monday from the 65th floor of the Park Hyatt, one of Beijing’s elite hotels. Unusuallly thick smog, even for Beijing, has blanketed the Chinese capital for the past four days, with no end in sight.

MCT

The view Monday from the 65th floor of the Park Hyatt, one of Beijing’s elite hotels. Unusuallly thick smog, even for Beijing, has blanketed the Chinese capital for the past four days, with no end in sight.

Choking smog grips Beijing region 02/24/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:07am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  2. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  3. In Florida, nation's only lightning center closes after DARPA cuts funding (w/video)

    Environment

    University of Florida professor Martin Uman usually spends much of this summer at an old Army base about an hour northeast of Gainesville, shooting rockets at thunderclouds, then measuring the bright flashes of lightning that followed.

    Rocket-and-wire triggered lightning at the University of Florida's International Center for Lightning Research and Testing, which recently lost federal funding. A rocket trailing a grounded wire is launched toward an active thunderstorm at the ICLRT. One launch is from a tower, one from ground. When the wire is about as high as the Empire State Building, lightning is induced to strike the top of the wire, much as it strikes tall objects like the ESB. Interestingly, the cloud charge source is about 3 miles high, so a 300 yard-long wire can cause a 3 mile or more long lightning.  After that, there are several normal tortuous strokes ( downward leaders from the cloud charge/upward return strokes) which can be seen as the wind blows the individual strokes to the right. The time between strokes is about 50 thousands of a second. Between some strokes, continuing current can be seen. Continuing current is what generally starts forest fires. [Photo by Dr. Dustin Hill]
  4. Editorial: Reasonable clarity on gambling in Florida

    Editorials

    Gambling expansion strategies — and misfires — are nearly an annual ritual in Florida. There were the eight counties that voted to allow slot machines but were blocked by the Florida Supreme Court. There was the governor's $3 billion deal with the Seminole Tribe in 2015 that was never approved by the …

    Gov. Rick Scott agreed to a much simpler deal with the Seminole Tribe that embraces the status quo instead of expansion. And that’s a good thing.
  5. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]