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Smog Set To Lift As Rain Cleans The Air

Shi Jiangtao in Beijing – SCMP – Updated on Aug 11, 2008

Smoggy skies, which have shrouded Beijing for the past week and remain a persistent concern, are expected to clear today, meteorologists say.

The capital was still blanketed in thick haze yesterday, with poor visibility and sapping humidity. Rainstorms were forecast for overnight.

But Wang Jianjie , deputy director of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, said weather conditions would help disperse trapped pollutants, especially airborne particles from dust and vehicle emissions.

“The forecasted rainfall tonight and tomorrow is certainly conducive to cleaning up airborne particles and clearing the air,” she said.

Olympic cyclists have complained about the heat and humidity, but weather officials said conditions would improve.

“It is unlikely we will have the sultry and humid weather in the coming days that we saw last week,” said Guo Hu , director of the Beijing Meteorological Observatory.

Amid concerns that frequent summer showers would affect outdoor events like beach volleyball and tennis, which were postponed due to rain yesterday, he said organisers were informed of conditions hourly.

Beijing has tried to reduce pollution ahead of the Games, but substantial improvement has not been seen.

Some international experts have voiced concerns that Beijing’s air quality standards have fallen short of those adopted by the World Health Organisation.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and Achim Steiner, who heads the UN Environment Programme, have weighed in and defended Beijing’s efforts. Echoing mainland environmental officials, Mr Rogge said foggy air should not be confused with pollution.

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