By Eugene Hoshiko and Didi Tang, December 6, 2013
A building under construction is covered with haze in Shanghai, China,
Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. Shanghai authorities ordered schoolchildren
indoors and halted all construction Friday as China's financial hub
suffered one its worst bouts of air pollution, bringing visibility down
to a few dozen meters and obscuring the city's spectacular skyline.
Shanghai authorities ordered schoolchildren indoors and halted all
construction Friday as China's financial hub suffered one of its worst
bouts of air pollution, bringing visibility down to a few dozen meters,
delaying flights and obscuring the city's spectacular skyline.
financial district was shrouded in a yellow haze, and noticeably fewer
people walked the city's streets. Vehicle traffic also was thinner, as
authorities pulled 30 percent of government vehicles from the roads.
They also banned fireworks and public sporting events.
like I'm living in clouds of smog," said Zheng Qiaoyun, a local resident
who kept her 6-month-old son at home. "I have a headache, I'm coughing,
and it's hard to breathe on my way to my office."
concentration of tiny, harmful PM 2.5 particles reached 602.5 micrograms
per cubic meter Friday afternoon, an extremely hazardous level that was
the highest since the city began recording such data last December.
That compares with the World Health Organization's safety guideline of
The dirty air that has gripped Shanghai and its
neighboring provinces for days is attributed to coal burning, car
exhaust, factory pollution and weather patterns, and is a stark reminder
that pollution is a serious challenge in China. Beijing, the capital,
has seen extremely heavy smog several times over the past year. In the
far northeastern city of Harbin, some monitoring sites reported PM 2.5
rates up to 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter in October, when the winter
heating season kicked off.
As a coastal city, Shanghai usually
has mild to modest air pollution, but recent weather patterns have left
the city's air stagnant. On China's social media, netizens swapped jokes
over the rivalry between Shanghai and Beijing, saying the financial hub
was catching up with the capital in air pollution.
Alan Yu, a chef in Shanghai, satirized the air on his microblog as though he were sampling a new vintage of wine.
Shanghai air really has a layered taste. At first, it tastes slightly
astringent with some smokiness. Upon full contact with your palate, the
aftertaste has some earthy bitterness, and upon careful distinguishing
you can even feel some dust-like particulate matter," Yu wrote.
environmental group Greenpeace said slow-moving and low-hanging air
masses had carried factory emissions from Jiangsu, Anhui and Shandong
provinces to Shanghai. But it said the root problem lies with the
excessive industrial emissions in the region, including Zhejiang
province to the south.
"Both Jiangsu and Zhejiang should act as
soon as possible to set goals to reduce their coal consumption so that
the Yantze River Delta will again be green with fresh air," Huang Wei, a
Greenpeace project manager, said in a statement.