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TIME Magazine

Samantha Singha
Prof. Peterson- Writing 39C
why air pollution is such a major problem. China faces
distinct challenges as it continues growing economically,

The Desolation of Smog

Smog is one of the many contributing factors to global
warming and to the global environmental crisis. The
environment and its citizens are at risk of deteriorating
health and habitat and so is future generations. Smog is a
type of air pollution that takes the form of a fog. The air
is characterized by heavier and darker fog caused by
smoke and chemical fumes, including automobile
exhaust among other things. Increase in smog is an
increase in deadly chemicals in our systems. In recent
years, many policies and eco-ethics have come about
to do something about this impending disaster. A look at
Shanghai, China, one of the most populated and
industrial cities on Earth can give insight to how we
arrived to where we are now and where we should be
heading to.

Fig,1 Shanghai covered in smog.

Shanghai, the coastal city of China wasnt always where
it stands today, a more environmentally knowledgeable
and active participant in the rapidly growing eco-friendly
trend. Shanghai is the most populated city in China and
also a city that faces hazardous levels of air pollution.
Through the reliance of coal, straw burning and
factory/vehicle emissions, Shanghai has been plagued
with detrimental air pollutants. Shanghai, like most of
China underwent a period of rapid expansion and growth
in their industrial period. This acceleration created more
fumes and pollution from the cities factories and
consumption of coal. Coal is one of the leading reasons

while at the same time attempting to meet air quality

guidelines set by the World Health Organization (PM
2.5). Only recently did Chinese officials take into
account how much smog/ air pollution were in their
skies. Starting recently in 2012, the city of Shanghai
began monitoring smog levels basing the measurement
on a scale called AQI, or Air Quality Index. These
monitoring stations are a growing technology that detects
any smog level changes in the surrounding city. The
ratings for these are measured by PM 2.5 or particulate
matter 2.5 micrometers (US Embassy). The number 2.5
comes from any particle in the air smaller than 2.5mm
since objects that size can enter the lungs and
bloodstream doing the most harm to our systems.
Frequent exposure to air pollution can lead to detrimental

Fig.2 AQI measurements. Shanghai was past hazardous

in winter of 2013
In December of 2013, Shanghai faced the worst smog
pollution since the monitoring of the air quality,
Airpocalypse (Wang). Ratings were recorded to be 602.5
micrograms per cubic meter, which is extremely
hazardous to breathe. (Zelman) Compare that fact with
the World Health Organizations safety guideline for air
quality, which should be around 25 micrograms. Citizens
were advised to stay indoors, 30 percent of governmental
cars were removed from the streets and fireworks and
public sporting activities were halted for the week. The
cities skylights were yellow with haze and very few
people were found walking the streets. (Zelman) The air
quality in Shanghai isnt only poor due to its own
factories and management but the activities in
neighboring cities play a huge role air pollution. The
environmental group Greenpeace said slow-moving and
low-hanging air masses had carried factory emissions
from Jiangsu, Anhui and Shandong provinces to
Shanghai(P.M 2.5). Industrial cities like those pose major
threats to their neighbors, especially during winter time
when smog is at its worst. During the months of October
to January, the reliance of coal is once again the reason
conditions are worse in winter. The Northern parts of
China uses coal to warm up for the winter which spreads
the pollutants towards many cities including Shanghai.
Usually during summer Shanghai receives relatively
clean winds from the East Ocean, but during winter time,
the wind is cold and stagnant, leaving the smog in its
place, building up to hazardous levels, which is exactly
what happened in the winter of 2013. During the
December smog crisis, China also noticed the increase in
the burning of straw which actually accounted for 10
percent of the pollution. A whopping 50 percent of
pollution comes from vehicle and factory emissions
(Shanghai). The smog crisis called to action several
policies and alerted officials on the gravity of situation.
The effects of breathing in this toxic fume year after
years has been seen in the lives of the citizens.

Fig 3. A man and child wearing face masks to cover up.




Issue #567 up
Environmental Protection
reducing matters induce asthma,
Agency, such

bronchitis, and acute and chronic respiratory symptoms

such as shortness of breath and painful breathing, and
premature deaths (PM 2.5). There have been many
reported cases linking air pollution and smog to
respiratory and other health problems, even recently it
has been reported as carcinogenic. Although it was only
recently that smog levels were recorded, air pollution has
been around for years and has continually affected the
health of the people living there drastically. Lung cancer,
asthma all these diseases affect Shanghai on a much
bigger scale, that the government has implemented
several policies on the environmental crisis. Premier Li
Keqiang said in March of 2013 to clean up pollution by
reducing coal consumption, shutting steel plants and
controlling the number of cars on the streets (Shanghai
Air Pollutions). Reducing coal would impact Shanghai
and even China tremendously since the country is still
reliant on it instead of using renewable sources of power.
By 2015, most cars on the street should be eco-friendly.
The Chinese government stated all carmakers in
China, the worlds biggest autos market, will be required
to achieve average fuel economy of 6.9 liters per 100
kilometers across their product line-up. By 2020, the
target will have been made more stringent to 5 liters per
100km (Agencies).

BenMAP." Science of the Total Environment. By Cott A.

Voorhees. Vol. Volumes 485486. S.l.: Elsevier Science,
1999. 396-405. Print.
"Shanghai Air Quality Is No Laughing Matter."
Shanghai Air Quality Is No Laughing Matter. N.p., n.d.
Zelman, Joanna. "Shanghai Smog Hits Extremely
Post., 07 Dec. 2013. Web. 01 Nov.

On October 18th, the Shanghai government released the

Five-Year Clean Air Action Plan (2013-2017), which
aims to reduce the concentration of PM2.5 by 20% on
2012 levels by 2017(Shanghai Issues). Since the
monitoring of smog levels and the December crisis, the
Shanghai and Chinese government is engaging in more
eco-friendly practices and is taking drastic measurements
to reduce air pollution. The monitoring website is also
available to the public for any further information on up
to date smog levels.

Agencies. "New Rules Spark Race for Eco-friendly

Cars." Shanghai Daily. N.p., 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 1 Nov.
"Shanghai Air Pollution Wanes After Smog Forces
Cancellations." Bloomberg, 9 Dec.

US Embassy. "U.S. Consulate Shanghai Air Quality
Monitor." Consulate General of the United States
Shanghai. US Consolate, n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.
"PM 2.5 Objectives and History." EPA. Environmental
Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2014.
Kan, Haidong, Stephanie J. London, Guohai Chen,
Yunhui Zhang, Guixiang Song, Naiqing Zhao, Lili Jiang,
and Bingheng Chen. "Season, Sex, Age, and Education
as Modifiers of the Effects of Outdoor Air Pollution on
Daily Mortality in Shanghai, China: The Public Health
and Air Pollution in Asia (PAPA) Study." Environmental
Health Perspectives 116.9 (2008): 1183-188. UCI
Library. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.
Wang, Jiandong, Cuicui Wang, and Bin Zhao. "Public
Health Benefits of Reducing Air Pollution in Shanghai:
A Proof-of-concept Methodology with Application to

"Shanghai Issues Clean Air Action Plan." Shanghai

Environmental Protection Bureau. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov.