Air pollution now the worst on record in Shanghai

May 5th, 2011 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Shanghai, May 5 (IANS) China has created waves on the world stage with its technological advance and rapid economic
rise, but overcoming its long persistent pollution still remains a dream for it.

China’s most populous Shanghai city is experiencing its worst pollution to date with Tuesday’s recorded air quality
again being at the top of the five-level scale - severe. The last time pollution topped the five-level scale was April
2, 2007, but for a shorter duration, the Shanghai Daily reported.

A short spell of rain Tuesday morning resulted in muddy showers in many parts of the city, leaving cars covered in a
layer of wet dust washed down by the rain. But the wet weather failed to substantially reduce the pollution, with the
Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau again recording its highest level of air pollutants.

Weather forecasters and the environmental bureau say that with more rain and favourable winds over the next few days,
the air pollution, blamed mainly on sandstorms in the north of the country, should ease.

More residents could be seen wearing masks in Shanghai but for those with respiratory problems it may already have been
too late.

Many people were critical of the authorities, saying they had failed to guide people to take timely precautions. Some
urged the city to plant more trees or produce artificial rain to ease the problem.

But experts say such measures would not help the current situation, as the current air pollution had little to do with
Shanghai’s local environment but was caused by two sandstorms - one blown down from the north and the other blown in
from the sea.

“The longer distance the sand-filled storm or wind travels, the smaller the particulate matters in the air. Given the
distance the sandstorm has travelled before reaching Shanghai, rain can only help bring down a small portion of the
relatively bigger particulate matter in the air to ease instead of effectively avoiding pollution,” said Dong Wenbo, an
environmental engineering professor with Fudan University.

He said increasing green areas in Shanghai would help improve local air quality but would do little to prevent such air
pollution since it was caused by environmental conditions elsewhere.

According to the environmental bureau, the local air pollution index air stood at the 500 ceiling level for both the
past two days, the worst situation yet recorded. Air quality is considered hazardous once the benchmark figure climbs
to 300.

“I wonder what has been done effectively over the years. They said trees have been planted in the north but we are
still suffering sandstorms every year,” Chen said,an IT worker and amateur meteorologist.

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