By Amanda Perez 10-23-13
Schools, streets and airports were shutdown this week due to heavy smog in China’s northeast city, Harbin. This is China’s first major winter pollution crisis.
The density of fine particulate matter, PM2.5, read 1,000 micrograms in many monitoring stations in Harbin. This record reading is 50 times higher than what the World Health Organization considers safe.
Harbin is China’s largest city, with a population of 11 million. China’s official news agency, Xinhua, reports that this hazardous smog was the outcome of the city’s heating system turning on for the first time for the cold winter season. The government has mentioned plans to better the environment to reduce smog levels, but there has been no progress for China.
Harbin is not the only city to be affected by this hazardous smog. Other parts of northeastern China including Tangshan, and Changchun are suffering high levels of severe smog. Recently, Beijing has set up a color-coded alert system to reduce emergency situations that can halt construction and factory production.
The smog is reported to last for 24 hours.