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January 13th, 2013:

Northern China on health alert as smog worsens

Submitted by admin on Jan 13th 2013, 12:00am



Shi Jiangtao in Beijing

Pollution levels off the scale in Beijing, and with no wind, conditions could get even worse

People across much of northern China were warned to stay indoors yesterday to avoid air polllution that, in the Beijing area area at least, was among the worst for a decade.

Thick smog that has blanketed a dozen provinces in the north, cente and east in recent weeks intensified, with environmental advocates describing it as the worst they could recall.

In Beijing, pollution readings by the local environmental watchdog, as well as the US embassy, blew past the upper limit of “hazardous” early yesterday afternoon and stayed there for the rest of the day.

US embassy pollution data published hourly on Twitter showed the level of health-threatening PM2.5 – or particles smaller than 2.5 microns – had reached 886 micrograms per cubic metre at 8pm. Its Air Quality Index, which includes PM2.5 and ozone, had surged past the maximum rating of 500 to 755, or “beyond index”.

With no wind forecast to bring more favourable conditions in the next three days, experts said the worst may be yet to come.

“It’s so awful that I find it really difficult to breathe,” said Zhou Rong , a Greenpeace campaigner in Beijing. “It’s the most polluted day I can remember.”

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said its own figures showed PM2.5 levels had exceeded 700 micrograms per cubic metre since early afternoon. That pushed the Air Quality Index to its maximum of 500 for the first time since real-time air pollution updates began on New Year’s Day.

Under the mainland’s newly revised standards, a level above 200 is considered heavy pollution and unhealthy to those with lung or heart diseases. Readings above 300 are deemed “hazardous for the entire population”.

State television and local media warned people to avoid going outdoors as much as possible, quoting forecasts that suggest winds will not arrive to clear the choking smog until Tuesday.

Beijing Children’s Hospital said heavy pollution was largely to blame for the number of children being treated for respiratory ailments hitting a five-year high in the past week, with more than 7,000 patients a day.

Exacerbated by heavy fog, pollution in Chengdu , Jinan , Wuhan , Xian , Zhengzhou and many other cities has worsened significantly in recent days. Visibility fell to less than 50 metres in many areas, forcing the closure of dozens of highways and the cancellation of dozens of flights.






Environmental Health

Air Pollution

Smog obscures the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The capital saw some of its worst air pollution in a decade. With fog making things worse, roads were closed and flights hit elsewhere. Photo: Xinhua

More on this:

Smog in north shows problem is being ignored, say activists [1]

Source URL (retrieved on Jan 13th 2013, 7:08am):


Hong Kong’s record lack of sunshine nothing to be SAD about

Submitted by admin on Jan 13th 2013, 12:00am

News›Hong Kong


Johnny Tam

Psychiatrist says don’t fear the odd gloomy year, despite just 1,550 ray-filled hours in 2012

Felt a bit depressed last year but couldn’t put your finger on why? Maybe it was because Hong Kong had the fewest hours of sunlight since records began in 1885.

According to the annual weather report issued by the Observatory, 2012 was exceptionally overcast – with only 1,550 hours of sunshine.

February was the gloomiest month, with just 38.1 hours. January came second, with only 86 hours.

In comparison, that capital of gloom, Edinburgh, Scotland, is only slightly less sun-deprived, recording about 1,421 sunny hours a year.


A lack of sunlight can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – common in Scandinavian countries – but a psychiatrist said it was not a concern in the city.

Psychiatrist Tsang Fan-kwong said gloomy years came only every so often and because Hong Kong was a subtropical city it didn’t have people suffering from SAD.

Fung shui master Raymond Lo, also known as “Fung Shui Lo”, said the dark days had been predicted.

“The gloom was expected as it was the year of the water dragon,” Lo said. He described the year as “flooded by dark and cold water” and said it was a comparatively bad year for everyone. “There were a lot of troubles, including the Lamma ferry tragedy.”

Looking forward, Lo said 2013 would be a year of blessings and happiness as the nature of the year was “fire” – red and bright.

Chinese historians have long drawn connections between extreme weather and the overthrow of regimes. So perhaps those lawmakers calling for the ousting of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should forget their petitioning and instead pray for rain.

After all, the handover of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997, is remembered for the deluge that fell in the hours before and after the ceremony.




Hong Kong

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Source URL (retrieved on Jan 13th 2013, 6:52am):


A spot of fog

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