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Smog Readings Off the Charts in China
January 30, 2013

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The Chinese Government has announced plans to address a persistent smog problem in Beijing and other cities, in the wake of an off-the-charts air quality reading in the capital on Tuesday.

An air quality measurement device atop the U.S. Embassy in central Beijing recorded a reading of 517, which was described as "beyond index." Readings of more than 300 are labeled "hazardous"; when readings are that high, environmental officials advise people to go outside at all. It was the second straight day of such a high level being recorded.

Northern China has recorded the worst air quality ratings ever in recent days and weeks. Government officials place much of the blame on the tremendous increase in the production in the hundreds of coal-burning factories that dot the northern part of the country. China now consumes nearly half of all coal produced in the world. In 2011, the growth of coal use in China alone was 87 percent of the entire world's growth. The sharp increase in coal use has been at the Government's direction, in response to a 200-percent increase in the demand for electricity since 2000.

Another prime emitter of air pollutants that cause smog are automobiles. China has seen a marked increase in the number of cars and trucks on the country's roads in recent years. The government recently announced a plan to remove nearly 200,000 older and more pollution-emitting vehicles from Chinese roads and to emphasize vehicles that are "greener," burning more environmentally friendly fuels. In early 2008, the Government reported the presence of 3 million vehicles on roads. Now, the Government says, that figure is 5 million.




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