Air pollution levels in China have mounted to levels such high that even a spurt of fresh air these days seems like a matter of past. The situation is clearly visible from the most recent attack of thick smog in Zhengzhou (the city is still gulped by it), the capital of Henan province, one of China’s 10 most polluted places.
Citing the ever increasing levels of air pollution, many people have opted to move out of polluted cities in China. But life is not easy for the ones who still continue to dwell in these highly polluted places. The times are so difficult that certain measures, that might seem cynical and sarcastic to the world, are being taken to provide fresh mountain-air in packaged form to these pollution stricken cities.
The news is fresh from this weekend. An unnamed Hanen-based travel company has provided the residents of Zhengzhou with fresh mountain air, packaged in bright blue bags that looked like plastic balloons. According to reports and photos that surfaced from the event, residents yearned to be able to have their chance at the fresh-air bags that conveniently clung like oxygen masks to people’s faces.
The demand was so high that everyone was allowed just some deep breathes of the air – that came from a nearby mountain – only for a few minutes.
Beijing, the populous Chinese capital city, is usually the highest smog-struck city in the country. Last week, the smog levels rose to ten times of what is considered the safe level of smog in air.
But, at times, Zhengzhou has outranked Beijing in pollution levels. The major reason behind this is attributed to the coal-yards in nearby places of the city, many of which were recently discovered as being operating without any anti-pollution measures that can effectively capture or at least prevent the direct release of harmful particulate matter in the air.
The smog in China is mainly composed of a particulate matter called the PM2.5, developed as a result of burning fuels such as coal. Prolonged exposure to this pollutant can result in conditions such as asthma, liver inflammation, increased risks of cardiovascular diseases and even premature deaths.
However, the dysfunctional coal yards in Zhengzhou are not the only reasons that result in incidences of smog in Chinese cities. It was reported in a recent survey that in the year 2013, only a tiny number of cities in the country followed guidelines for reducing pollution. The pollution standards in-effect in the country requires various cities to cut their air pollution rate to varying amounts. A campaign called “name and shame” was also instigated by the end of 2013 to point out cities that failed to follow the set guidelines and fared lowest as compared to their pre-set levels of pollution reduction.
Though the recent act of providing fresh mountain air in packaged form may come around as a parody on the government’s inabilities in tackling air pollution, it is quite evident that if no measures are taken soon, the time will soon come when such events would become a necessity for living in China.